By Genalyn Kabiling
When he steps down from office in 2022, President Duterte plans to take his “last flight” at the Sangley airport back to his home city of Davao.
The President has divulged his final flight plans after leading the inauguration of the Sangley Airport in Cavite City last Saturday. The new airport, one of the big ticket items in the Build, Build, Build program, aims to lessen air traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“I’m just two years away and I will go home and pack up and use the flight from my — last flight, as long as it will not go down there in the sea,” Duterte said in his impromptu remarks.
“I will take my last flight as President to Davao. I will use this airport,” he said.
The President has lauded the construction of the Sangley Airport Development Project to reduce air traffic in Manila airport, citing the efforts made by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
He said Tugade, a former classmate at San Beda College of Law, may be “kuripot” (cheapskate) but is “bright and competent” to complete any assignment given to him.
Duterte also offered an apology to the aviation stakeholders for his past outburst over the congestion problems hounding NAIA. He admitted there was trying to sort out the “crisis” at the time, to the point he jokingly asked Tugade to blow up the NAIA runway.
“I’d like to apologize for my outburst noon sa lahat ng — well ‘yung lahat nakaharap mo. Simply because there was really a crisis,” he said.
“And so sabi ko kay Art, Art, p***** i** itong NAIA na ito. Para wala na tayong problema paputukin mo na lang ‘yung runway tapos doon na kayo lahat sa Clark mag-landing (I told Art, Art this NAIA is a son of a b**ch. Blow up the runway so we will all land in Clark airport instead),” he said.
Duterte recalled that it was then that he suggested the use of Sangley airport for general aviation to reduce air traffic in the Manila airport. He said he gave Tugade until the end of 2019 to complete the project, which the transportation chief achieved.
“Look what a P700 million can do in the hands of a competent, a bright… Ilocano ‘to. Kuripot na (He is Ilocano and a cheapskate),” he said.
The P486-million Sangley Airport Development Project involves the construction of a new terminal building and the upgrade of the runway equipped with precision approach path indicator lights and air ground lighting system. The airport will be mainly used for general aviation as well as freight and commercial turboprop operations.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has set aside P500 million to improve the airport’s drainage system to prevent floods.