DAVAO CITY – The old terminal of the Davao International Airport (DIA) in Barangay Sasa here will be converted into a holding area where arriving air passengers can wait for the results of their reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, a requirement imposed by the local government to control the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Davao Region public affairs and information officer Dean Ortiz said that the old terminal, which was said to be haunted, is one of the sites currently being constructed within the airport since July 25 to serve as holding areas for air passengers.
Once completed, the holding facility at the old terminal, 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 COVID is scarier than the invisible friends,” Ortiz said in jest.
The old terminal was where the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) had been housed 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.
“While the preparation for the office transfer is underway, we assure that regular programs and projects will continue,” it said.
Aside from the old airport, Ortiz said the agency was also 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 simultaneous. 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 were needed to address the influx of inbound air travelers, comprising passengers of the sweeper flights of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), government-assisted locally stranded individuals through Hatid-Probinsiya, and regular commercial flights.
DPWH-Davao Regional Director Allan S. Borromeo said the construction of the holding facilities was the response of the agency in helping control the spread of COVID-19 in adherence to the Republic Act 11460, also known as the Bayanihan We 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 adequate infrastructure support during these hard times. We can assure OFWs, 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 has 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, and readjusted it to 72 hours, and later struck it out as a requirement for Davao-bound passengers after several complaints on the rigidity of the previous requirement.
But effective July 22, all passengers would be swabbed at the Davao International Airport, at the expense of the local government, and would not be allowed to leave unless negative test results come out within 24 hours.