The planned 300-hectare Philippine Air Force (PAF) base in Barangay Catagupan, Balabac town, has been eyed to operate as a terminal point for civilian airline companies to move people and finally unlock southern Palawan’s tourism potentials for economic growth.
Tactical Operations Wing West (TOW West) deputy wing commander Col. Gerry Soliven said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is currently conducting a survey in Catagupan to determine this possibility.
“Puwede kasi maging dual use ang air base. It can be used also as an airport katulad dito sa Puerto Princesa [City],” Soliven said on May 6 during a press conference at the headquarters of the Western Command (WESCOM).
Soliven said the dual use of the air base was a proposal from the provincial government that was discussed with PAF officials to a certain extent but has no full details yet.
In June last year, former PAF chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar Jr. signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Palawan governor Jose Alvarez for the construction of the air base in Catagupan that will later be called Balabac Air Base (BAB).
Alvarez said setting aside the use of government property in Balabac is the province’s contribution to efforts to secure the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and the southern border.
He also expressed optimism that the PAF base development will help spur economic growth in southern Palawan.
Only recently, Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Admiral Rene Medina announced an AFP plan to also put up a naval station in the municipality to provide local logistic support to the air base.
Medina said the command ashore will be “very strategic” if placed in the same area as the future BAB.
“‘Yong naval station wala pa, nasa planning stage pa lang, but we are looking forward that we can have a station in the area so that the air force and the navy can jointly conduct security patrols in Balabac. We are hoping na the same area or malapit para we can jointly use our assets. Likewise, the troops will be able to support each other,” Medina said.