DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 July) – The business community here said the modernization of the Davao International Airport will be crucial in bringing the economic growth of Davao Region and Mindanao to a higher level through increased trade and tourism activities.
“I can understand where the President is coming from as he does not want to be accused of being biased as he is now the President of the Philippines, not anymore as Mayor of Davao City,” said Art Milan, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII), in a text message.
Milan was reacting to the statement of President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday that the P40.57-billion modernization project of the Davao airport will be the last among the airport projects of his administration and may not even be done before his term ends by 2022.
“Kung hindi na maabutan, sabi ko mga taga-Davao, pasensya na kayo. Para walang masabi ang Congress sa atin, baka nga 3% sila doon sa kabila (If we can’t make it right in time, I will ask for apology from the people of Davao. So that nobody in Congress can say anything, maybe 3% of them belongs to the opposition),” he said.
Milan said the upgrading of the airport would contribute to the higher gross regional domestic product through increased investments and tourism activities not only of Davao Region but also of other regions in Mindanao.
He said that he believes it can be done within the term of the President.
Milan added that Duterte’s SONA was very comprehensive, reflecting on the state of the nation for the first half of his administration and outlining his plans and programs for the next half to “increase a comfortable life for all Filipinos.”
“I’m excited to see these positive changes happening in the coming days. Let us all support the President so we can see real development happening in our country and to our people,” he added.
But Stephen Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), felt it was necessary to emphasize priority areas to propel the country to higher growth and development.
He lauded Duterte’s comment on the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines that it should revisit its mandate, that is, to finance agricultural enterprises and endeavors.
“You know, you are called Land Bank but you are now the number one commercial bank in the Philippines. What the heck is happening to you? You are supposed to finance agricultural enterprises and endeavors. Bakit wala? Why can’t you just buy a few wagons or whatever? Go to the countryside and ask the people if there are cooperatives, tulungan ninyo to form one,” Antig said.
Duterte asked Lank Bank why it was mired in commercial transactions and said it should go back to what “you were created for and that is to help the farmers.”
He gave the state-owned bank until end of July to present a plan or he will ask Congress to reconfigure it or abolish it if no viable plan will be presented. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)