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Idle Cotabato airport may possibly operate soon

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • 14:30 PM Thu Jun 6, 2019
John M. Unson

NORTH COTABATO --- Central Mindanao’s business sector is anticipating improvements in regional economy if the provincial airport, idle since its construction a decade ago, gets opened soon.

The airport in Mlang town in North Cotabato, designed for large passenger and cargo planes, has never been functional due to alleged controversies  partly triggered by the political hostility between its proponent, the now Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, predecessor then of now out-going third-termer Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza.

Congresswoman Nancy Catamco, who will assume as North Cotabato governor on June 30, said she will focus on the opening of the mothballed Central Mindanao Airport for the region to have two airports.

There is only one airport for residents of the cities of Cotabato and Tacurong and parts of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur provinces --- the Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in the first district of Maguindanao.

Catamco said Thursday she will coordinate with national agencies, among them the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for her to be properly guided in her plan to open the multi-million airport in Mlang town.

Mlang is more accessible to residents of the cities of Tacurong and Kidapawan, unlike the Awang Airport, which is too far away.

Pete Marquez, a senior member of different business organizations in Cotabato City, said Thursday the planned opening of the Mlang airport will surely boost central Mindanao’s economy.

“We need that airport. We are thanking Gov. Catamco this early. That move is good,” Marquez said.

Bai Sandra Siang, an official of the Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cotabato City, Inc., said traders and entrepreneurs ought to support Catamaco’s effort.

“Making that airport functional will boost the investment climate in North Cotabato and the towns in Maguindanao that are near to Mlang municipality.” Siang said.

Catamco, now outgoing congresswoman, defeated during the May 13 gubernatorial race Carmen Mayor Roger Taliño, father of the now third-termer Taliño-Mendoza.

Mendoza was elected vice governor during last month’s electoral exercise, outvoting Catamco’s running mate, Socrates Piñol.

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