ARMM execs seek probe of airport work delay
COTABATO CITY—Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Wednesday urged Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to investigate what they described as the slow rehabilitation of the Cotabato airport.
The snail-paced rehabilitation of the airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, Maguindanao province, has already taken its toll on the local economy, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said.
Ishak Mastura, chair of the ARMM’s Board of Investments, said businesses had been so badly affected that businessmen had passed a resolution asking the government to demand action.
Hataman said he had asked ARMM Public Works Secretary Emil Sadain, in cooperation with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, to conduct an initial investigation.
Mangudadatu said he had personally talked to officials of the construction firm conducting the rehabilitation work on the airport to ask them to fast-track the repair work to allow the resumption of regular flights from Cotabato to Manila and other areas in the country.
Mangudadatu said Vic Lao, of the Lao construction firm, had admitted that the project had yet to be finished in February. The rehabilitation work started last December.
But Mangudadatu said there was no clear answer as to why the pace of the repair work was slow.
Sources told the Inquirer that the project was not even 50-percent complete.
Mastura said that on Feb. 26, a multisectoral group here asked the Department of Transportation and Communication, and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to work for the immediate resumption of regular and daily flights to and from the Cotabato airport.
Since Nov. 26, 2013, the airport has not been fully operational, closing four times a week and leading to a reduction of flights to just three daily.
The airport’s runway and taxiway are being widened.
The delay in the repair work has brought losses to businessmen and discouraged travelers, since they have to pass through the cities of General Santos or Davao on the way to Manila, Mastura said.
Investors, foreigners and personnel of local and foreign donor agencies involved in development projects in the ARMM have been complaining of the long travel from Manila due to the airport’s unavailability, he added.
The Cotabato airport serves Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and Cotabato City. Edwin Fernandez and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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