No Politics involved in Central Mindanao Airport Development Project

Last June 12, 2019, the Central Mindanao Airport Development Project was featured by Ali G. Macabalang of the Manila Bulletin. That was a sad misunderstanding of the issues.

Today, we make things clear. The delay of the operations of the Central Mindanao Airport was not influenced with political considerations or issues.

Generally, Feasibility Study precedes project implementation. But that was not the case with regard to the Central Mindanao Airport Development Project during the time of former Governor Manny Piñol. Really, the infrastructures and facilities were built without conducting the required FS. Feasibility Study should be made indispensable particularly to a very big project such as this. FS’s importance is based on the desire to “get it right” before committing resources, time and budget. With FS, we can answer the questions relating to its technical, economical, legal and operational feasibility, among others. For every one’s information, the Feasibility Study for this Central Mindanao Airport was only recently completed in December 2018.

At the start of Hon Emmylou “Lala” J. Taliño-Mendoza’s term as Governor of Cotabato Province in the year 2010, her administration had exhaustively tried to remedy the matter affecting this project in the hope of legalizing the defective land acquisitions made during the time of then Governor Piñol. Governor Mendoza’s administration has also continued to support the airport project and have been working with the DOTr and other agencies for the completion of the project despite those pending issues as stated.

In April 2013, the Provincial Governor received a letter from CAAP relative to the agreed donation of certain parcels of land acquired by the PGC for the airport project. The following developmental works in the project area were introduced:

1. As of 2013, there is already an existing 1.2 kilometer runway, a terminal building, and a 1.2 kilometer fence, among others;

2. With the execution of the 2014 Memorandum of Agreement between the DOTC and PGC, an additional 39.20 hectares was acquired to upgrade the airport project so as to comply with international airport facility standards;

3. Acquisition of additional areas for the runway extension and construction of the remaining 2.325 km access road were made. For this purpose, the DOTC transferred funds to the PGC in the total amount of Twenty (20) Million Pesos;

4. As of April 2018, a total of ten (10) out of forty-three (43) landowners were already paid which covers 14 hectares out of 39.20 hectares. While these lands have been surveyed, not all have been paid and acquired as yet as there are still some legalities or formalities needed to be threshed out before the deeds would be executed between DOTC and the respective landowners. In line with this, the Fund Utilization Report covering the payments under the 2014 MOA was submitted to the DOTr on January 18, 2018. Moreover, based on the proposal made by the Regional Development Council XII-SOCCSKSARGEN, the development of the access road of the Central Mindanao Airport was undertaken. The DPWH funded the concreting of 3.006 km access road under its CY 2017 budget with a program amount of One Hundred Million (Php100,000,000.00) Pesos. The Project included road upgrading of 3.006 km road in Brgy. New Rizal, M’lang;

5. The upgrading of 3.4 km access road in Barangay Langkong, M’lang, Cotabato has also been proposed by the DPWH under its CY 2018 fund. The total length proposed is 3.4 km. The Municipal Government of M’lang has started negotiating with the road right of way (ROW) in the area and the DPWH District Office will prepare the Program of Works (POW) and DED of the proposed project;

6. Widening and extension of the runway (1.6 kilometers in length by 30 meters in width);

7. Expansion of the apron and;

8. Construction of fire station building.

With the legal and formal infirmities and defects affecting land acquisitions in the 2003 MOA, the Provincial Government had sought the appropriate interventions of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Commission on Audit (COA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Office of the Ombudsman, and the Office of the President on the matter that would help us remedy the current dilemma and in due course, the total operation of the Central Mindanao Airport.

Atty. John Hay Deluvio

Provincial Legal Counsel

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