MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/01 March) The Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (BKCCII) is spearheading the proposal to use the Del Monte Airfield in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon as a municipal airport, Roger Navarro, BKCCII executive director said.
Navarro said the air strip, 1,400 meters long and 40 meters wide, stands on land owned by the National Development Corporation leased to Del Monte Philippines, Inc.
He said the chamber is pushing that the air strip be retained for smaller plane commercial use instead of being idle or used for agricultural purposes.
“This is useful for tourism and development in the province,” he said. He said the airstrip used to be operational until blocks were placed recently. Navarro said for the relief work after super typhoon Yolanda, American missionary planes were able to use the airstrip to ferry relief goods from Bukidnon.
Roderico Bioco, BKCCII chair, said via SMS Friday they have passed a resolution to support the retention and development of the airstrip as a municipal airport.
He said they will ask the Bukidnon and Manolo Fortich local government units (for their legislative bodies) to adopt their resolution.
Bioco added that they will also ask the National Economic Development Authority- Regional Development Council to endorse to NDC (National Development Corporation) and CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines).
Navarro said they intended to write a letter to Transportation and Communication Asec. Lino H. Dabi, assistant secretary for Project Monitoring and Evaluation of DOTC, based on their discussions in Manila during the Cagayan de Oro investment forum last week.
He noted in his email that they held a closed door meeting with Oro Chamber, Kaamulan Chamber, Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno; and representatives from USAID, DOTC, CAAP and DOT (Department of Tourism) for updates on the status of Laguindingan Airport.
The chamber has earlier backed the development of the Bukidnon Domestic Airport, where a site has been selected by consultants of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines last year in Don Carlos town.
Navarro said they are proposing that both the Bukidnon airport in Don Carlos and the Manolo Fortich municipal airport, which are three hours apart, be built.
“That would be much welcome development in Bukidnon,” he added citing the three-hour travel time from Bukidnon to Laguindingan Airport.
Navarro said there might be possibility that the Manolo Fortich Municipal airport will be developed ahead of the domestic airport.
In an email he sent Thursday, Navarro even said the municipal airport “could be a contender for the Bukidnon airport project since there is enough room to build a two-kilometer runway with adequate clearances.”
But he clarified via telephone that their support for the Manolo Fortich municipal airport is not a withdrawal of endorsement for the Bukidnon Domestic Airport in Don Carlos, a town in southern Bukidnon.
Board member Clive Quiño, son of Manolo Fortich Mayor Rogelio Quiño, told Bukidnon News Saturday afternoon the plan has not been raised before the municipal council so far. But he noted that it will be a welcome development.
“This is a good addition to the local government’s recent campaign for investments,” he added.
He said small plane passengers would also welcome the move, considering the distance between Manolo Fortich and Laguindingan Airport.
In the same email, Navarro described the air strip in Manolo Fortich as two-kilometers south of the town hall.
The air strip, he added, is a gravelled grass strip, has a parking apron at midpoint and the runway is aligned on the north south direction. The approaches on both ends of the runway, he added, are clear by at least five kilometers from each direction.
He noted that Pulag and Gabuc hills, both about 2,000 feet above sea level are nearest to the airfield, which sits on a plateau at about, 1,850 feet above sea level.
The two hills, he added, straddle the original World War II airfield of the United States Army Air Corps under the USAFFE (US Armed Forces in the Far East) headed by Gen. Douglas Macarthur.
Navarro added that DMPI’s lease is due to expire soon, but he could not specify as of Saturday afternoon.
Navarro described the role of the Bukidnon Kaamulan chamber as the “primary proponent” of the project. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)