The provincial legislators have expressed opposition to the proposal of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to reopen the Puerto Princesa City International Airport (PPIA) and other airports in the province of Palawan.

Board Member Ryan Maminta recently proposed a resolution objecting to the reopening of commercial flights both international and domestic for the purpose of tourism until the COVID-19 is effectively contained.

He said that under GCQ, certain measures during ECQ will still be observed. However, the reopening of airports will be risky as of this time.

“Reopening the airports for the purpose of helping jump-start the tourism industry will be futile and pointless proposition at this point. [This will possibly] open a door to the resurgence of the virus in the province unless safety protocols have been established to prevent the spread of the virus,” Maminta said.

He said that the resolution is in support of the earlier position of the provincial government of Palawan.

Maminta said that it shall not be construed as opposition to other allowable flights to operate.

“Commercial flights shall remain close and restriction to the movement of the people in Palawan shall be strictly observed until the test result of the COVID-19 is confirmed, mass testing is conducted. [This objection] is not limited to government and military flights, air ambulance and medical supply, flight check and weather mitigation flights, emergency, repatriation, sweeper, and flights as approved by IATF-EID,” he said.

Board Member Sharon Onda said a concrete study on the potential health impact of opening the airports should first be done.

“Not in favor of reopening airports this soon. Dapat mapag-aralan ng husto ang muling pagbubukas at maisa alang-alang ang kahandaan ng Probinsya para tumanggap ng turista at iba pang parating sa ating isla,” Onda said.

Board Member Eduardo Modesto Rodriguez also said that while reopening the airport would help boost the local economy, there is no guarantee on safety.

“Though the DOTr’s recommendation would be beneficial for the provincial economic rebound, but the whole pandemic picture suggests that the curve has not flattened yet. I am not in favor of reopening the ports and airports of the province including PPC International Airport,” Rodriguez said.

In addition, Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez should make a stand regarding the matter for proper legislation according to Board Member Cesario Benedito.

“Para sa akin ay kailangan munang malaman po ang stand ni Gob tungkol sa bagay na yan bilang namumuno  ng province ng Palawan at kung ano ang recommendation ng provincial IATF. Para maging basehan sa gagawing aksyon ng sanguniang panlalawigan,” Benedito said.

Recently, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said that they are yet to determine the feasibility of opening PPIA and clarified that Tugade’s statement was a mere directive that would have to be studied by the IATF.

PPIA caters domestic flights to and from Manila, Clark, Cebu, and Iloilo, all of which remain under ECQ.

Aside from PPIA, there are also two regional airports in Busuanga and San Vicente.

The measure has been referred to the Provincial IAT for consideration.