What Ails Mlang airport is the same illness that plagued most of community airports across the country.
Mlang, North Cotabato – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the immediate completion of the mothballed Central Mindanao Airport here and asked Senator Christopher Lawrence “ Bong” Go to source out funds for it.
During his visit on Dec. 30, 2019 here, the President said the airport must be opened and utilized.
The President issued the remark after Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, and North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco sought his intervention for the immediate operation of the airport here to boost economic development in mainland Mindanao.
With this, the President verbally asked his former assistant and now Senator Go to coordinate with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and source funds for the completion and operation of the airport.
In a statement on Thursday, Piñol said that he and Catamco had earlier briefed President Duterte on the actual status of the airport, also known as the M’lang airport.
The airport's construction started in 2004 when Piñol was governor. The 1.8-kilometer runway and terminal building were completed in 2010.
Present when the President issued the instruction were Go, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Rolando Joselito Bautista, National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., M’lang Mayor Russel Abonado, Piñol, and Catamco.
The airport’s terminal building has been completed but the facility has not been operated because the provincial government of North Cotabato has not turned over the 62-hectare property to the DOTr.
The previous leadership, then under the provincial governor and now Vice Governor Emmylou Mendoza, cited “missing documents” as the reason behind their failure to turn over the project to the DOTr for completion and commissioning.
Catamco assured President Duterte that the provincial government will complete all the needed documents for the official turnover of the property to the DOTr.
Go said the operation of the airport is vital because it is located in a strategic area and will boost the economic growth of the Soccsksargen region where many agricultural products, including highly-perishable fruits, come from.
"I will talk to DOTr Secretary Art Tugade and I will help look for additional funding for the completion of the airport," Piñol quoted the senator as saying.
Piñol said the senator also vowed to seek his colleagues’ support to fast-track the completion and operation of the M’lang airport before 2022.
In a statement, Catamco said the opening of the airport would pave the way for a more brisk economic activity like fast transportation of agriculture products and improve trading engagements.
Sec. Pinol also said that Sen. Go also vowed to seek his colleagues’ support to fast tract the completion of the project.
"I will talk to Sec. Art (Tugade) immediately so that work will be resumed. I will also talk to my colleagues in the Senate to help me provide funds for this project," Sen. Go said.
The Mlang Airport Project was Pinol’s brainchild.
With funding support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through the Department of Energy, Senator John Osmena, Senator Richard Gordon, then House Representatives Bernardo Pinol Jr., Jesus Sacdalan and Nancy Catamco, the airport project took shape.
The 1.8-kilometer runway and terminal building were completed in 2010 under then Gov. Sacdalan.
However, it was mothballed during the 9-year term of then Governor, now Vice Governor Emmylou Mendoza, who cited missing documents as the reason behind the failure of the provincial government to turn over the 62-hectare property to the DOTr.
Until now, the provincial government could not find deed of sale of parcels of lands while the lot owners who sold their properties are in possession of photo copies of the deed of sale and land titles.
Lot owners are still the ones paying the real property tax since it was not yet officially turned over to the provincial government. (Edwin O. Fernandez)