By EMMIE V. ABADILLA
Once the country transitions to General Community Quarantine (GCQ), the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will expand international aviation gateways to include Clark, Cebu and Davao, Secretary Arthur Tugade announced in his presentation to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet on Thursday night.
Every one or two weeks later, DOTr aims to open more international gateways, including Zamboanga, Iloilo, Bacolod and Bohol.
As of press time, all international landing and take-off are concentrated at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals 1-4.
While the mandate of the DOTr is to provide transportation, we are vested with the responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he stressed.
"The approach of DOTr is partial, gradual and calculated, and more importantly by phases," he elaborated.
"As we expand the international aviation gateways, we will build testing laboratories in Clark and Cebu for passengers arriving from international primary gateways," the Transport Secretary went on.
The country needs to have testing facilities in its international gateways. Hence, the DOTr is working with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Red Cross to hasten the accreditation of these laboratories.
"While we put up testing laboratories, there are already accred¬ited hospitals in Clark and Cebu. We can also use the airport itself to accommodate people for testing," Tugade added.
Opening more international gateways, such as Zamboanga, iloilo, Bacolod and Bohol, is also vital.
"This is one way of decongesting NAIA 1, 2, 3. We are an archipelago. It is imperative we spread the aviation centrum of operations to other parts of the country," he maintained.
Furthermore, the DOTr is allowing domestic air operations. Already, flights are operating in Visayas and Mindanao.
"We have hub and spoke operations for domestic mobility, and more importantly, for domestic tourism," Tugade concluded.