Mothballed Cotabato airport gets new lease on life
KIDAPAWAN CITY—President Duterte has given a new lease on life to plans for the operation of Central Mindanao Airport in M’lang town, Cotabato province, a key facility for economic development in the region.
Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco said the opening of M’lang airport would be a big boost to the trade and tourism potentials of the landlocked province, which has been ravaged by the succession of powerful temblors last year.
Work at the airport started in 2004. Its 1.8-kilometer runway and a terminal building were completed in 2010. However, the facility was not commissioned into service because ownership of the property where it sits was not turned over to the Department of Transportation.
Mindanao Development Authority Chair Manny Piñol, who used to be Cotabato governor from 1998 to 2007, said the M’lang airport was expected to be the province’s main platform for bridging local produce, like perishable fruits, to markets in the Visayas and Luzon.
The M’lang airport is just 30 km from Kidapawan, the provincial capital. At present, the nearest airport to Kidapawan is Awang in Cotabato City, some 130 km away.
Catamco said the M’lang airport could further boost tourist arrivals in the province, which is a popular entry point to Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.
Mr. Duterte wanted the M’lang airport to operate, instructing his close aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, to work out the opening of the facility, Piñol said.
The President gave the instruction on Dec. 30 when he distributed relief goods to quake victims in M’lang.