Ilocos Norte eyes expropriating lands for airport expansion

By Leilanie Adriano

June 29, 2023, 8:33 pm

<p>Laoag International Airport <em>(File photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)</em></p>

Laoag International Airport (File photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – Ilocos Norte’s provincial government is considering expropriating lands from landlords who will fail to attend the final meeting for the implementation of site acquisition for the Laoag International Airport development project.

In an interview on Thursday, Gervy James Gumarit, head of the Ilocos Norte government’s Communication and Media, said some landowners, heirs, and representatives affected by the proposed airport expansion project were earlier invited to a series of meetings with the provincial government's lot acquisition team but failed to show up.

As a result, the team – composed of the Metro Ilocos Norte Council (MINC), the Provincial Assessor’s Office, and the Civil Aeronautics and Aviation Board – issued a final meeting with the same group on June 30 to July 1 to discuss the implementation of the lot acquisition.

“Failure to attend this final schedule shall prompt the filing of expropriation for said lots,” said lawyer Althea Nicolette Pilar, project head of the MINC.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) earlier approved about PHP900 million for the site acquisition, covering a total of 58.47 hectares of land, consisting of 275 lots and 62 residential buildings and other improvements located in barangays Calayab, Apaya, and Gabu Sur in this city.

As of June 29, a total of 38 registered or declared owners or claimants with 78 lots have yet to arrive at a settlement with the Ilocos Norte team that was tasked to talk with the concerned parties.

The Marcos administration is eyeing to expand the airport’s runway to 205 meters east and 170 meters west from the center lane to accommodate bigger aircraft to enhance the Ilocos Region’s connectivity and mobility.

This, however, needs the full cooperation of landowners to implement the project this year.

With the expansion project, the provincial government hopes to revive international and regional flights at the airport, including the direct international flights between Laoag City and Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as Laoag-Cebu flights.

To date, only two domestic airlines are flying regularly at the Laoag International Airport.

In 2018, the Laoag International Airport could only accommodate a combined number of 140 international and domestic passengers per day.

However, through the initiatives and development projects pursued by the DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the airport can now serve 200 international and 240 domestic passengers per day. (PNA)