The Dumaguete-Bacong Airport development in Negros has started paying off landowners in preparation for its construction in the next two to three years, but Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo thinks it should be in another place.

Degamo said construction of the airport in Bacong town, south of the capital Dumaguete City is “not feasible.” Instead, he is proposing Tanjay City, up north, as a more feasible location for the airport. 

He explained that Dumaguete would soon become “highly urbanized,” with developments expanding to neighboring localities, including Bacong. “If we put an airport (in Bacong), where would we put our high-rise buildings?” Degamo said in Bisaya. 

He also anticipates the worsening traffic in the metro Dumaguete area would get worst if the airport is in Bacong. “Whether we like it or not, 20 years from now, it will be overcrowded. Traffic will get worse,” he said.

Degamo also met with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) officials and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), where his proposal was discussed as part of the province’s 20-year development plan. 

Bacong Mayor Lenin Alviola was “shocked” with Degamo’s pronouncement, saying they had already started purchasing lots from 170 to the 180-hectare airport, spanning four villages. 

In a document shown to reporters, Alviola said the DOTr had allocated an initial P500-million as payment for right-of-way for the new “Dumaguete Airport Development Project” in Bacong.    

He said the project went through the proper process and was approved by the Negros Island Region Development Council, which Degamo chaired. 

The mayor insists that development should start from the grassroots, in this case, the barangay, through the government’s bottom-up approach. Unlike Degamo’s claim, he said the Bacong airport project was part of their municipal development plan long before DOTr approved it. 

“I can’t remember that the province has a 20-year development plan. I could also not remember that he (Degamo) said that it (airport) would be in Tanjay because Tanjay has no development plan to build an airport,” he told reporters. 

Political observers said that Tanjay City, located in the second district of Negros Oriental, is a possible bailiwick of Degamo, who is seeking reelection. His wife, incumbent Mayor Janice Degamo, also seeks reelection in Pamplona, an adjacent town south of Tanjay City.

Bacong, meanwhile, is in the 3rd district of Negros Oriental and is believed to be the mostly owned by the Teves clan, the political rival of Degamo. – Ryan Sorote