15 February 2020 marks another significant milestone in Philippine aviation history as one of the key projects of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program formally started operations — the Sangley Airport in Cavite.
From what was formerly a naval base seated at the narrow peninsula known as Sangley Point, the new gateway is now a symbol of hope and revival in a myriad of ways.
Five months. That was the timeframe set by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to wrap up the development of Sangley Airport. That directive stemmed from an inspection he made in June of last year of the country’s main gateway, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
After the inspection, the President pushed for the development of Sangley Airport, which is located just over 27 kilometers from NAIA. Sangley Airport, as projected by the President, will complement NAIA’s operations.
Right then and there, the President knew that it was time to turn to his friend and former classmate, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, a man whom he calls, in his own words, “bright and competent” to get the job done.
Indeed, five months were given, and it was a done deal. Round-the-clock construction work was done from June to November 2019 at the Sangley Airport as ordered by Secretary Tugade.
Amid criticisms that the work to transform the old Sangley Point Naval Base into a major gateway would not be finished on time, work to build the airport pushed on at a relentless pace. Helpful was the collaborative assistance given by the national government, the local government units (LGU), Armed Forces and the private sector.
Unknown to many, beating the clock and finishing the race to build the new airport were made possible due to the help and hard work of a silent workhorse, Transportation Assistant Secretary for Procurement and Project Implementation Giovanni Lopez.
Lopez was the man behind the scene and was responsible for the close coordination with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), headed by Director General Jim Sydiongco, and the Project Management Office (PMO), which enabled the timely completion of the airport.
And so, on October 2019, a month shy of the deadline set by the President, Sangley Airport welcomed without a hitch its maiden cargo flight — an ATR 72-500 cargo freighter operated by CebGo — proving the viability of the airport in a successful operational dry run.
Now, just three months since its completion, Sangley Airport has cleared doubts on its capabilities and viability. Finally, the airport is now ready to accommodate general aviation and turbo prop category 3C aircraft, which will significantly decongest NAIA of a large load of traffic.
Among the works carried out at the airport are the newly-constructed 750-square-meter Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) that can accommodate 160 passengers, a runway that spans 2,400 meters and a new concrete apron.
Additionally, support facilities were also installed, such as the security fence, road network, vehicular parking area for 120 cars, a power house with two standby 625KVA generators, and two 1,750-square-meter hangars to have the airport ready for its eventual commercial operation.
This is, without a question, a promise fulfilled.
Sangley Airport’s record-time completion and start of operations are not just testaments to the transformational initiative of the Department of Transportation, but they also tend to fortify the public’s trust on their government.
Sangley Airport is proof that the Duterte administration can deliver on its promises and will be able to get things done to make the country better.
To quote Secretary Tugade, “The realization of Sangley Airport is both a gift and blessing.”
Indeed, this newly-built facility will be of great help to ease mobility and connectivity across the country, and will serve as a legacy for future generations.