More than a year after the island province closed its borders for tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Camiguin is now ready to reopen its economy and tourism as Transportation Secretary Art Tugade, together with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) inaugurated the improved and upgraded Camiguin Airport in Northern Mindanao on 22 October 2021.The completed projects include the fire station building, passenger terminal building (PTB), administration building, CAAP Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) building, and runway asphalt overlay.
Secretary Tugade said that as Camiguin reopens its economy and welcomes tourists starting on 25 October 2021, the completed transport facilities and infrastructure projects will augment the recovery not only of the province but the region as well.
“Sa pagbubukas ng ating paliparan, makikita natin muli ‘yung tamis at pagsigla ng ekonomiya, ‘yung tamis at pagsigla ng ating turismo. Kung sasabihin natin na ang Camiguin ay isang tourism destination, hindi ba nakakalungkot na sabihin na papaanong magiging tourism destination ‘yan kung wala ka namang paliparan na ginagamit? Kung ang isla ng Camiguin ay maganda, at tunay namang maganda, hindi ba dapat lang mabigyan ng mobility at connectivity ang mga mamamayan ng Camiguin para ng sa ganon ‘yung sigla at tamis ng Camiguin ay makita, maramdaman, masubukan muli,” Secretary Tugade said.
With Camiguin island being part of a bigger archipelago, Secretary Tugade added that there is also a need to meet the demands in maritime and road transportation. He also stressed that developments are not exclusive for big provinces but also for small areas like Camiguin.
“Asikasuhin din ‘ho natin ‘yung mga lugar na may malaking potensyal, hindi lang sa lanzones kundi sa beauty ng lugar, at sa katamisan ng hospitality ng mga tao upang sa ganon sasabihin natin sa Pilipino, sa mga biyahero at mga dumadalaw sa Camiguin: Come again to Camiguin,” Secretary Tugade added.
For his part, Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo thanked Secretary Tugade for the swift completion of projects in Camiguin Airport, which he said were long-delayed. The governor noted that it is only during the Duterte administration and the strong commitment of the DOTr, under Secretary Tugade, that the asphalt overlay of the runway was completed.
“Tungkol sa asphalt overlay, kayo lang po nakatapos nun. Nag-umpisa ang asphalt overlay noong tatay ko po ay congressman. Namatay na lang tatay ko, ‘yung pumalit ‘yung apo niya. Sa tagal, ngayon lang ‘ho natapos ito, sa apo na. Ganon pala kabagal. Reality ‘ho since 2016 hanggang ngayon, lahat po sa Camiguin lang, nangyayari po in this administration,” Governor Romualdo said.
“In behalf sa probinsya ng Camiguin, maraming maraming salamat po sa DOTr team, na tinitingnan niyo ang Camiguin. Hindi niyo pinapabayaan. Tayo ‘ho ang second smallest province but, sa tulong niyo, nangyari na po ito. Again, una hindi ako makapaniwala na nangyari, lalo na ‘yung runway, pero nangyari po during this administration. So, Secretary Art, DOTr family, Captain Sydiongco, daghan iti (maraming) salamat sa inyong pag-abiabi (pag-welcome) dito sa probinsya ng Camiguin,” the governor added.
Meanwhile, to further develop Camiguin Airport, future projects such as the expansion and improvement of check-in and pre-departure area, the provision of a control tower, and the improvement of the vehicular parking area are also slated for the airport. A feasibility study on the development of the airport to accommodate larger aircraft and jet aircraft operations has also been proposed for next year.
“By next year gagawa tayo ng feasibility study kung saan mayroon bang paglalagyan ng ibang runway or kung papano iimprove itong runway dito sa Camiguin. Ang airport naman ‘ho ay depende sa laki, depende sa lapad so depende rin sa eroplano. Ngayon kung meron flight na international o maliit na eroplano, puwede rin itong gawin na international airport.” CAAP Director General Jim Sydionco said.