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PIA Press Release

Feature: Cotabato-M'lang Rural Airport to boost agricultural production industry

Koronadal City (23 October) -- The soon-to-be completed M’lang Airport would be beneficial to the agricultural production industry of the province of Cotabato, disclosed vice governor, Manny Piñol.

According to Piñol, the airport is the only option the people of M’lang has for them to be able to access big trading centers in cities of Cebu, Iloilo, and Metro Manila.

The airport, conceptualized in 1995 by vice governor Piñol (then the newly elected mayor of M’lang), is now ongoing construction in the 64-hectare land-area bought by the provincial government from the Buenaflor family.

In one of the ocular visit to the airport construction site by the Philippine Information Agency team led by director Olive Sudaria, on-site workers disclosed that the terminal is already 85-90% complete.

Accordingly, the fourth phase of the project or the concreting of its 1.2 kilometer long runway, will already commence this year.

The initial funding of the airport came from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Cotabato when the province lawmakers approved the airport plan and allocated Php12.8 M for the purchase of the 64-hectare area, at Php200,000 per hectare, a report from vice governor Piñol disclosed.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, though skeptical at first about the project, referred the Vice Governor to PNOC-EDC in Kidapawan for the possible use of the provincial royalty, amounting to Php30 M as an additional fund for the airport.

In 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave the directive to the Department of Energy to turn over to the DOTC the Php30 M from the PNOC-EDC in order to jump-start the project. DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza also approved an additional Php40 M funding from his department.

Senator John Osmeña also gave Php2.7 M in 2004for the initial clearing and fencing of the perimeter of the area that will be used for the project.

Senator Richard Gordon, with the support of Congressman Bernardo Piñol, Jr. of the 2nd District of North Cotabato, was able to have the Lower House and the Senate approve of the Php100 M funding of the Cotabato Rural Airport from the 2008 Annual Appropriations. This was used in constructing the terminal of the airport, although another Php100 M is still needed for the project to be fully completed, including the runway, Piñol said.

The airport is expected to be inaugurated on the 29th of October, 2009 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It is expected to be fully-operational by mid-2010, fifteen years after the idea was conceived.

According to Vice Governor Piñol, “the project will be President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s greatest gift to the Province of North Cotabato.” (Hannah/PIA 12) [top]

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