MLANG, North Cotabato, March 28 (Philippine News Agency) - President Aquino has directed former North Cotabato Governor Manny Piñol to “touch base” with Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas to look into the status of the completed yet un-utilized Cotabato Rural Airport here.
The airport situated in Mlang town has been mothballed for two years now.
Pinol first sought the help of the Chief Executive in the opening and utilizing the P300-million rural airport which was completed in December 2009 but has not been opened and operated following his defeat in the 2010 gubernatorial contest.
Acting on Pinol's "personal request," the President directed him to "touch base" with Sec. Roxas which the former governor did.
The airport, which was planned to serve as the loading point of passengers and food products from the Central Mindanao area for the big cities in the Visayas and Luzon, has a 1.2 kilometer concrete runway and a terminal building which were inaugurated by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in December 2009.
Considered as the brainchild of then Gov. Piñol, the airport received the support of Sen. Richard Gordon who worked for the allocation of P100 million to complete it during the term of former Governor, now Congressman Jesus Sacdalan.
The provincial government of North Cotabato under Piñol acquired a 62 hectare property in M’lang, North Cotabato and sourced an initial P30 million from its share in the operation of the Mindanao Geothermal Project to start the airport.
The land was turned over to DOTC which undertook the construction of the airport through the Air Transportation Office.
Maguindanao Governor Datu Esmael Mangudadatu has supported the efforts to open the Cotabato Rural Airport, saying it would contribute to the economic growth of Maguindanao province as well.
The airport is only about 20 kilometers away from the plankton-rich Buluan Lake where freshwater milkfish and large tilapia are cultured and produced.
“Why do we have to take a three hour trip to Davao City to take the plane to Cebu or Manila when we have an airport only 30 minutes away,” Mangudadatu asked.
Piñol said he will meet with Sec. Roxas after the Holy Week to fasttrack the opening of the airport. (PNA)