Gone in forty eight minutes

GONE in forty eight minutes into the Laguindingan municipal highway while travelling from Cagayan de Oro City to various points in western Mindanao, a virtual tourist can venture inside the access road of the future airport.

I for one have experienced the succeeding three kilometers leisure ride from the main highway to the airport access road and took pictures to satisfy my curiosity how the construction project is taking shape?

As a representative of one of the many stake holders in the region whose interest is into hotel, industrial gas manufacturing and property development, I satisfied my curiosity for an important business decisions in the future.

A project valued at USD 167.09 Million equivalents to P7.853 Billion is worth a grind of salt. The three kilometers stretch of a three lanes road network going to the airport is news.

The passenger terminals and other building structures going up in progress creates a spectacle in my mind to include my ocular experience as a subject for future strategic planning sessions on how a completed airport will impact on the regional economy?

The Laguindingan Airport project when operational is the next economic engine for Northern Mindanao affecting the lives of more than 3.4 Million people who are potential air travelers in the region.

Businessmen from Manila, Cebu and Davao will benefit the accessibility to safe air travel. It will expand our capacities for more business connections and improve tourism which has already landed more than 360, 000 visitors last year.

Upon opening, Laguindingan Airport could easily be considered for an international standard. As we read press releases or announcement from the officials within the inner circle of the project, it seems only the USD 13.38 million phases of the air navigation and support facilities is lagging behind as it has to undergo bidding and fabrication. In comparison with the other airports in the region, it will stand out as the biggest and most modern.

However, reading between the lines of the official pronouncement how the whole project evolved and the civil works progressed, the public can see some missing link between the construction phase of the airport and the environmental requirements for its operation. It is not much of an issue today but talking about it now would make the airport users prepared.

How the waste water be treated and garbage disposal be handled for an airport some three kilometers from the sea and twice bigger than the existing Lumbia Domestic Airport in Cagayan de Oro is a hypothetical question.

On the other issues affecting human settlement and relocation of the informal settlers of the property formerly owned by the Ayala Land who donated the airport land and those who owned lands with legitimate titles which were expropriated may have been long settled?

More questions with regards to the solid waste disposal will also arise like collection of the volume of garbage and where it will be dumped in an accessible sanitary landfill viable and economical in radius to dispose the solid waste without contaminating the aguafier of Laguindingan and the adjacent water sources of Alubijid?

In any project undertaking, the environmental impact study must be approved and endorsed by the local government unit before the project will be started. I see finger pointing if these queries are not resolved before the opening? Is there any Environmental Clearance Certificate on hand that will comply with Republic Act 9003 otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act?

In an airport operation, the Civil Aviation Office, a quasi public and private entity as the end user under the Department of Transportation and Communication, must secure the Environmental Clearance Certificate or ECC.

When interviewed concerning the environmental issue, the DENR of Region 10 through the Regional Director for Environmental Management Bureau, Abdullah C. Abubakar of the regional office cannot recall a paper trail submitted for evaluation and approval in their office. Or maybe it is not within their official mandate to scrutinize this type of project since it is government undertaking created by an Executive Order. A line department of the Executive branch cannot question an Executive Order.

The Environmental Clearance Certificate prior to the operations of a private or public undertaking is necessary. No one is exempted from not complying with the environmental laws because no one should dump waste water into the sea and garbage in an open area but only into a sanitary landfill as the final destination.

Another critical issue is the zoning for land use which might have escaped the attention of the original proponents of the Cagayan Iligan Corridor or CIC who undertook the study before it was endorsed to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for funding. Zoning must be acted now by the local government to clear some doubts on future investments in the area. Or should the development be an exclusive grant to the Ayala Land, who by deeds of their donation of more than 90 hectares of land reserves their exclusive right to develop the surrounding areas for commercial use?
There was so much hype on how the airport development will have an impact to the regional economy plus the other down line multipliers in business and economic opportunities. The Executive Order should have under gone finer tuning to set the rapid phase of the development rather than bound with exclusivity?

Unfolding now is the negative artificial appreciation of land values in the adjoining properties within the municipality created by out of town speculators and middlemen who wanted to cash in and profit on land prices.

Arbitrarily, this scenario is early and must be taken with caution like a snake bite as there is a cadastral case submitted to the Bureau of Lands defining boundaries of the land properties within the airport vicinity. Lands originally classified as agricultural cannot be converted for industrial or commercial use without securing a permit from the Department of Agriculture certifying on the non arability and productivity of the land.

No one can build any structure or convert the land for other purposes without undergoing the requirements of law to conform to a new zoning ordinance approved by the Government. And who says that the lands near the airport with mango orchards and coconut plantations are none arable and unproductive. The answer is reserved for Ayala Land.

The airport project is good for the economy of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. The two Lanao provinces will also benefit in terms of shorter and efficient access to air transportation to include transport of perishable goods.

It is a significant trading accomplishment when a Del Monte or Dole Pineapple fruit from Bukidnon finds its destination one hour and thirty minutes to the fruit shelves of an upscale supermarket in Manila or fate accomplished when our Balingasag Bangus is sold still alive and breathing in the stalls of Farmers Market in Quezon City.

Laguindingan Airport may spur other future economic activities for fast sea craft transportation, railways and other commerce for labor and capital investments.


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