DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 03 August) – The old terminal of the Davao International Airport in Barangay Sasa here will be converted into a holding area where arriving air passengers can wait for the result of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, a requirement imposed by the local government to control the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Dean Ortiz, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Davao region public affairs and information officer, said that the old terminal is undergoing construction since July 25 to turn it as a holding area for arriving passengers.
Once completed, the holding facility, located just across the existing terminal, can house 100 passengers. The 40-year-old terminal was bombed in 2003 that killed 22 people and wounded 155 others.
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has been holding office at the old terminal since 2016. Last July 27, the agency announced that it had moved out of the building and had shifted to work-from-home as an alternative work arrangement for its employees in preparation for the agency’s main office transfer.
Aside from the old airport, Ortiz said the agency is constructing 20 air-conditioned mega tents, at 10 rooms per tent with individual toilets and can accommodate up to 200 persons, in a one-hectare vacant lot at the location of the existing airport along C.P. Garcia Highway.
“We’re looking at the end of August to complete all 20 tents. Two sites are simultaneously (undergoing construction). Our priority is the C.P. Garcia (new airport site) but works are already ongoing at the old terminal,” Ortiz said.
At least three of the 20 tents will be completed on Thursday, he added.
He said the holding facilities have a combined budget of P120 million.
Ortiz said the facilities are needed to address the influx of inbound air travelers, comprising of passengers of the sweeper flights of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, government-assisted locally stranded individuals (LSIs) through the Hatid Probinsya program and regular commercial flights.
Allan Borromeo, DPWH-Davao regional director, said the construction of the holding facilities was the response of the agency in helping control the spread of COVID-19 in adherence to Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
“The regional office is working hand in hand with local government units in ensuring that we will provide our people with the adequate infrastructure support during these hard times. We can assure OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), LSIs and regular airline passengers that they will complete their temporary isolation in a safe and restful environment,” he added.
The local government of Davao earlier required all inbound passengers to present negative RT-PCR test results issued within 48 hours from scheduled departure upon check-in at the airport of origin but readjusted it to 72 hours. Later, the city government struck it out as a condition for Davao-bound passengers after several complaints on the rigidity of such requirement.
Effective July 22, all passengers were swabbed at the Davao International Airport, at the expense of the local government, and were not allowed to leave unless they have negative test results.