Photo: Antiterror Drive, What Do They Think?

June 30, 2006 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ANTITERROR DRIVE, WHAT DO THEY THINK?: A Muslim girl and her brother show off a poster of wanted Abu Sayyaf terrorists handed out by the Philippine military in the southern city of Marawi. Security forces are battling Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya terror network in the restive southern Philippine region. (Zamboanga Journal)

Spain Unveils P40-M Grant To Help Filipino Students And Teachers In Mindanao

June 30, 2006 at 12:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Darwin Wee / 30 Jun) Spain has granted a P40-million, two-year educational project that will benefit Filipino students and teachers in Zamboanga City and nearby Zamboanga Sibugay province, coinciding with the celebration Friday of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day, officials said.

Called the Acceso a la Educacion y Mejora de la Calidad Educativa en Colegios de la Peninsula de Zamboanga (Improving the Access and Quality of Education in the Schools of the Zamboanga Peninsula), the project by the Agencia Español Cooperacion International and Fundacion Humanismo Y Democracia, both charity arms of the Spanish government, and the Philippine Business for Social Project (PBSP), is expected to benefit more than 23,000 elementary and secondary students, including teachers and parents-teachers community associations in the three pilot areas in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

It aims to provide scholarship assistance to more than 2,000 poor and deserving students, and establish a 15-cubicles speech laboratory worth P1.2 million to increase the proficiency of the students in English and also to help promote and preserve the local Chavacano language, a unique mixture of Spanish and other Filipino dialects.

Officials said the educational grant will also include the construction of 30 classrooms and other facilities such as audiovisual production center, tables and chairs and texts books, and supplementary feeding program and remedial reading workshops.

Dr Marilyn Moncada, PBSP’s senior regional manager, said they identified the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School in Zamboanga City and 42 elementary schools from the municipalities of Ipil and Titay in Zamboanga Sibugay to be primary beneficiaries.

For instance, she said, the Don Pablo Lorenzo Memorial High School, which is one of the most populated schools in the southern region, lacks chairs and tables. She said the school, which has a population of more than 7,000, has only
2, 500 chairs for students to share.

“The lack of school materials greatly affected the performance of the students, who have been complaining of back pain since they don’t have chairs to sit during classes,” she said.

Pilar Rodriguez, representative of the Spanish-aid group, said the project is part of Madrid’s humanitarian assistance to the Philippines, a former colony.

Madrid has provided the Philippines with grants and other assistance to help promote social services, education, health, and other projects that included potable water system, agriculture and food security, good governance and environment protection.

“The program will not only promote good relationship among the two governments, but would also address some of the educational concerns in the Zamboanga Peninsula area.

“Basically the project aims to increase the access of children and youth to quality education and make them more productive students,” she said.

Rodriguez said the project is part of the 28.5 million euros (roughly P1.8 billion) that will be implemented in a three-year period starting this year.

She noted that Spain has decided to upgrade its cooperation with Manila to help fight poverty not only in Zamboanga Peninsula, but also in Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region and Caraga in southern Mindanao and in Bicol in Luzon.

Last year the Spanish government thru Manos Unidas also granted the Philippines P50-million for the construction of a five-hectare housing project for poor families in Ayala district in Makati City.

Local officials led a small Spanish delegation in celebrating the Philippines-Spanish Friendship Day, which was marked with photo exhibit at the Fort Pilar and simple ceremonies attended by much of the city’s elite personalities.

Misamis Oriental Telephone To Introduce Internet Services

June 30, 2006 at 11:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Mike Banos / 29 Jun) In a strong bid to stop the further erosion of its subscriber base and give its competitors a taste of their own medicine, the Misamis Oriental Telephone System, Inc. (MISORTEL) is bringing in affordable high-speed data services to its furthest service areas.

Oscar S. Moreno, president of the MISORTEL and governor of Misamis Oriental province, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with DC Tech Micro Services, Inc. that will make 24/7 Internet services available to new subscribers.

Engr. Ryan Sumalinog, DC Tech vice president for operations, who signed in behalf of the firm, said the new value added service called MISORNET will feature a two-tiered service structure: its Ulimited Dial-Up Service will deliver 24/7 Internet services at a minimum speed of 52 kbps (vs. 38 kbps. tops for competitors) for only P399 a month, while its DSL service guarantees a speed of 384 kbps for only P799 a month, but will enable the user to access the internet and use his voice phone at the same time.

Sumalinog said the 24/7 Unlimited Dial-Up Service is ideal for home and personal use while the DSL service would best serve the needs of small and medium enterprises.

DC Tech is a full complement service provider based in Davao City which is now providing similar value-added services in partnership with Globe-Telecoms to local exchange carriers (LECs)  of the Telecommunications Office in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan; Maramag, Malaybalay and Valencia cities in Bukidnon; Cotabato, Pikit, Kabakan, Matalam, Panabo, Tagum and Mati.

Marriz Manuel B. Agbon, DC Tech Sales and Marketing Partner in Northern Mindanao, said the move would provide local businessmen the impetus to invest in ICT.

“With additional investments in ICT, enhanced executive reporting follows, leading to significant cost reductions, revenue growth  and increased profitability as a result of  improved work efficiency brought by reduced data losses and integrated systems of operations,” Agbon said.

Moreno is optimistic the venture would further push MISORTEL’s mission to provide modern, adequate, efficient, reliable and affordable telecommunications specially to areas currently unserved and underserved by the company, which is majority owned by the Misamis Oriental provincial government.

“The provision of Voice and Internet applications in remote areas has become a necessity,” Moreno said. “In order for us to keep up with other developing nations, our citizens must be aware and knowledgeable to successfully compete in the global market. This is where MISORTEL’s partnership with DCTech plays a vital role.

Industry sources estimate internet users in the Philippines would grow to 20 million by next year and to 41 million by 2014.

“The business sector, being an engine of growth, is also a priority of this venture,” Moreno said. “For our economy to be globally competitive, Filipino businessmen, especially those engaged in agri-business, must also be at par technology wise with their global competitors.”  

Sumalinog said the new venture would also bring in new subscribers to MISORTEL which has seen its former dominance in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental diminish with the inroads made on new and existing subscribers by cellphone service providers.

“Since we shall do the installation, maintenance and collection from MISORTEL, they will gain a steady revenue stream at little or no expense to their present network,” he said.

Already, Sumalinog said DCTech provides its value added services to some 60 percent of the internet cafes in Cagayan de Oro City, offering 1mpbs package for only P8,000 and their 768 kbps for only P4,000. He said they have also successfully increased the total subscriber base of all the Telof LECs they are now serving by 15 percent after only four months of operations.

“We hope we will be able to do the same, or even better, for MISORTEL,” he added.

Death Toll Now 21 In Maguindanao Fighting, MILF Rebels, AFP Troops On Full Alert

June 30, 2006 at 5:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

COTABATO CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 30 Jun) Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces killed at least 20 government militias in fierce clashes in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, scene of a recent bloody bomb attack blamed by the military to the country’s largest Muslim rebel group.

An MILF fighter was also killed and ten others were wounded in sporadic clashes since Wednesday, said Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman. “Rebels have killed at least 20 government militias and about two dozens are also wounded in the fighting. One of our own was also killed and 10 MILF soldiers were wounded,” he said.

Kabalu said rebel forces have overran a military command post in Shariff Aguak, where 5 people were killed and 14 others injured in last week’s bomb explosion blamed on the MILF.

“There is a lull in the fighting today, but rebel forces are in full alert for possible new waves of attacks by the militias,” he said. The fighting erupted after the army-back militias attacked MILF strongholds, breaking a five-year old fragile truce in the restive region.

The military denied the allegations and said rebels fired rockets on an army post, manned by soldiers and militias, in the village of Koloy in Shariff Aguak, sparking a firefight that spread to four other villages.

“CVO elements from (the villages of) Tapikan, Koloy, Nabundas and Pulang Lupa, all of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao were simultaneously attacked by heavily armed group (of rebels),” said Capt. Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the Southern Command.

Pabilonia said the fighting between rebels and militias started late Wednesday, but he could not confirm if there were government casualties.

He said more soldiers were sent to the town to reinforce security forces in the area. “One company from the Army’s 75th Infantry Battalion and another from 25th Infantry Battalion proceeded to the headquarters of the 64th Infantry Battalion to strengthen and reinforced the engaged troops,” he said.

Pabilonia said soldiers were sent to the town to protect civilians and vital government installations from the fighting. “Troops were in the area to protect the civilians and vital government installations and to pacify the fighting between rebels and militias,” he said.

Hundreds of civilians have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the fighting.

Kabalu earlier warned that the fighting would escalate in other areas and could affect the peace talks if the militias continue to attack MILF forces. “We fear this trouble will worsen if they continue to attack us. We are only fighting back in self-defense,” he said.

Police and military have tagged two senior MILF leaders as behind the bombing in Shariff Aguak on June 23. The bomb, security officials said, was intended to assassinate Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, a charged strongly denied by the MILF.

“That’s not true; the MILF had nothing to do with the bombing. The military is only using the issue to justify attacks on us,” Kabalu said.

He said most of the militias fighting the MILF were allegedly followers of Ampatuan, a staunch supporter of President Gloria Arroyo. “The militias belong to the private armies of Ampatuan, there could be hundreds of them,” he said.

The governor could not be reached for comment, but Nori Unas, the provincial administrator, said one of those killed in the bombing was the nephew of Ampatuan and that the bomb attack targeted the governor who was unhurt in the blast.

The bomb, he said, was left near a parked vehicle on the market where the politician’s convoy had passed. “The governor was obviously the target of the attack,” Unas said, adding, Ampatuan’s convoy was passing when the bomb went off.

The latest fighting coincided with the failure of government and rebel peace negotiators to sign an agreement last month on the Muslim ancestral domain.

Ancestral domain refers to the MILF demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland. It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.

In September, government and rebel peace negotiators have signed several agreements centered on the ancestral domain — its concept, territories and resources, and how the MILF shall govern these places.

The MILF is demanding that large areas in Mindanao be included in the proposed ancestral domain. This include the five Muslim autonomous provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces, where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes, but government negotiators disagreed, saying, Manila will not allow the country to be dismembered.

President Arroyo opened peace talks in 2001 with the MILF, the country’s largest separatist rebel group fighting for an independent Muslim state in the southern region, in an effort to put an end to more than three decades of fighting in Mindanao.

In February, security and rebel forces clashed for weeks in Shariff Aguak town and left more than a dozen people dead from both sides. The fighting erupted after the MILF opposed a provincial government road construction that rebels claimed would encroach into their territories in the village of Datu Unsay.

10 Killed In New MILF Fighting In Southern Philippines

June 29, 2006 at 2:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MAGUINDANAO (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Jun) At least 10 government militias were killed in fierce fighting Thursday with Muslim rebels in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines, despite a truce and the presence of international cease-fire observers.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said rebel forces have killed at least 10 militias and had overran a military command post in the town of Shariff Aguak, scene of a bomb attack last week that killed 5 people and injured 14 others.

Two rebels were reported wounded in the clashes, said Eid Kabalu, an MILF spokesman. “The fighting is still going, I can hear the sounds of automatic gunfire and explosions from where I am now,” Kabalu told the Zamboanga Journal by phone from a rebel base near Maguindanao.

He said the fighting erupted after the army-backed CVO (Civilian Volunteer Organization) militias attacked MILF stronghold since Wednesday, breaking a five-year old truce between rebels and the military.

The military denied the allegations and said rebels fired rockets on an army post, manned by soldiers and militias, in the village of Koloy in Shariff Aguak, sparking a fighting that spread to four other villages.

“CVO elements from (the villages of) Tapikan, Koloy, Nabundas and Pulang Lupa, all of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao were simultaneously attacked by heavily armed group (of rebels),” said Capt. Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the Southern Command.

Pabilonia said the fighting started late Wednesday, but could not say if there were soldiers killed in the clashes. He said more soldiers were sent to the town to reinforce security forces in the area. “One company from the Army’s 75th Infantry Battalion and another from 25th Infantry Battalion proceeded to the headquarters of the 64th Infantry Battalion to strengthen and reinforced the engaged troops,” he said.

Hundreds of civilians have fled their homes for fear they would be caught in the fighting.
Kabalu warned that the fighting would escalate in other areas and could affect the peace talks if the militias continue to attack MILF forces. “We fear this trouble will worsen if they continue to attack us. We are only fighting back in self-defense,” he said.

Police and military have tagged two senior MILF leaders as behind the bombing in Shariff Aguak on June 23. The bomb, security officials said, was intended to assassinate Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, a charged strongly denied by the MILF.

“That’s not true; the MILF had nothing to do with the bombing. The military is only using the issue to justify attacks on us,” Kabalu said, adding, those who attacked MILF strongholds were allegedly followers of Ampatuan, a staunch supporter of President Gloria Arroyo. “The militias belong to the armies of Ampatuan, there could be hundreds of them,” he said.

Nori Unas, the provincial administrator, said one of those killed in the bombing was the nephew of Ampatuan and that the attack targeted the governor who was unhurt in the blast. The bomb was left near a parked vehicle on the market where the politician’s convoy had passed. “The governor was obviously the target of the attack,” Unas said, adding, Ampatuan’s convoy was passing when the bomb went off.

The latest fighting coincided with the failure of government and rebel peace negotiators to sign an agreement last month on the Muslim ancestral domain.

Ancestral domain refers to the MILF demand for territory that will constitute a Muslim homeland. It is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement. In September, government and rebel peace negotiators have signed several agreements centered on the ancestral domain — its concept, territories and resources, and how the MILF shall govern these places.

The MILF is demanding that large areas in Mindanao be included in the proposed ancestral domain. This include the five Muslim autonomous provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces, where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes, but government negotiators disagreed, saying, Manila will not allow the country to be dismembered.

President Arroyo opened peace talks in 2001 with the MILF, the country’s largest separatist rebel group fighting for an independent Muslim state in the southern region, in an effort to put an end to more than three decades of fighting in Mindanao.

In February, security and rebel forces clashed for weeks in Shariff Aguak town and left more than a dozen people dead from both sides. The fighting erupted after the MILF opposed a provincial government road construction that rebels claimed would encroach into their territories in the village of Datu Unsay.

Cotabato Environment Chief Survives Ambush

June 29, 2006 at 10:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

  

 Police investigators examine the bullet-riddled car of a top environment official who survived an ambush in Cotabato City. (Mark Navales)

COTABATO CITY (Mark Navales / 29 Jun) One person was killed and three others wounded in an attack in Cotabato City in the southern Maguindanao province, police said Thursday.

Police said Kahal Kidtag, director of the local environment office, survived the ambush late Wednesday afternoon, but his driver was killed in the attack. Two civilians near the area were also hit and wounded by stray bullets.

The gunmen, police said, opened fire on the car in downtown Cotabato. Police is still investigating the motive of the attack, officials said, adding, Kidtag was heading home when ambushed.

Police said a nine-year old boy and an 18-year old civilian were wounded in the attack.

US Ambassador Tours Grade School In Tondo

June 29, 2006 at 8:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney with Filipino school children in Tondo, Manila.

MANILA — U.S. Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney visited the Center of Excellence in Public Elementary Education, known as the CENTEX School, in Tondo in Manila on Wednesday.

She also toured several classrooms, visited students, and met with parents and teachers. Later, Kenney aqlso met with Fernando Zobel de Ayala, chairman of the Ayala Foundation and Ayala Land, which developed and continues to fund the school.

Some of the CENTEX classrooms use a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) teaching program called “text2teach.” The Ayala Foundation and USAID also coordinate on a program to bring Internet access to public schools.

The CENTEX School educates approximately 175 children from kindergarten through sixth grade from economically disadvantaged families. A partnership with the Department of Education and the Government of Manila, the school is chiefly funded by Ayala Land.

Aside from providing free education, CENTEX provides financial support by subsidizing students’ school uniforms, books, transportation, and meals. “What an impressive example of corporate responsibility and giving real opportunities to young Filipinos,” said Ambassador Kenney. “I met wonderful young students who are incredibly motivated, well spoken, and all-around impressive.

The parents are all dedicated to their children’s education, and the teachers are equally remarkable.” Ambassador Kenney noted she was particularly impressed with the special attention given to helping students not only strive for higher education, but also to assisting children and families on issues such as self esteem and nutrition.

Kidnapped Muslim Poll Official Freed In Mindanao

June 29, 2006 at 7:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Muslim woman shows off a sticker with markings “tulungan and tabangan” which literally means “to help” during a recent joint RP-US medical mission in the southern Philippines. Troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels are pursuing Thursday, 29 June 2006, a band of bandits who freed a kidnapped Muslim poll official in Lanao del Norte province.

(Zamboanga Journal)

ILIGAN CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Jun) Kidnappers have freed a Muslim poll official after private negotiators allegedly paid some 100,000 pesos ransom in exchange for his life in the southern Philippines, officials said Thursday.

Officials said gunmen released the 56-year old Disalungan Pulala, of the Commission on Election, after the ransom was paid late Wednesday in the remote village of Ulangu in the town of Balo’i in Lanao del Norte, one of five provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

Pulala was kidnapped Monday while on his way to mosque in Iligan City. “He was freed alright, but not after negotiators allegedly paid some one hundred thousand pesos,” Marine Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ben Dolorfino, deputy commander of the Southern Command, told the Zamboanga Journal.

The payment of ransom violated the government’s strict no ransom policy, he said. Government soldiers, backed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces, mounted a joint operation Thursday to track down the kidnappers headed by bandit leader Elias Makil.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said rebel forces were also working closely with the military through the ad-hoc joint action group to track down the kidnappers.

Another group of kidnappers are still holding Kurt Degracia, an 11-year old boy seized June 23 in Parang town in Maguindanao province. Gunmen kidnapped Degracia inside the Landasan Central Pilot Elementary School in front of his horrified teacher and classmates. His family owns a chain of hardware stores, authorities said.

“The MILF is really working very closely with the military to hunt down the kidnappers and we will not stop until they are arrested,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, said in an interview.

Last month, gunmen seized Pala-o Diamla, a court sheriff in Marawi City in Lanao de Sur province on orders from a politician who lost in the May 2004 elections.

Diamla was returning home May 30 when kidnapped by a band of armed men. He was freed a week later after Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, backed by government soldiers, threatened to assault the kidnappers’ hideout in the province.

The military said a defeated town vice mayoralty candidate, who has a pending electoral protest, allegedly masterminded the kidnapping to force the court to rule on his favor. Even judges in the provinces who were hearing election protests were also under threat.

The MILF, the country’s largest Muslim separatist rebel group, forged an agreement in 2004 that paved the way for rebel forces to help government hunt down terrorists and criminal elements in areas where the MILF is actively operating.

MILF forces also rescued in May a nine-year old girl, Donna May Ramos, kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf bandits in the southern island of Basilan. Rebel forces, led by Bonie Salie, captured two men holding Ramos and rescued the girl May 13 in the hinterland village of Limbo Upas in Tipo-Tipo town.

The fate of the two men Jaid Awalal and Jaljani Isnilon was unknown, but the rebels handed the girl, daughter of Councilor Donnel Ramos who was kidnapped May 10 while playing with a friend in Lamitan town.

Troops Disarm Bomb In Jolo Island

June 29, 2006 at 6:04 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Muslim woman covers her face from patrolling Filipino soldiers in the southern Islamic city of Marawi in the restive island of Mindanao, where security forces are battling members of the militant Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya terrorists. (Zamboanga Journal)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 29 Jun) Troops disarmed a powerful homemade bomb planted near a government school in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, where security forces are battling members of the Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya terror network, officials said.

Officials said civilians informed the soldiers Monday about the bomb planted just 50 meters outside the Pitogo Elementary School in Kalingalang Kaluang town. “Troops have secured the area and safely disarmed the bomb,” said Captain Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the military’s Southern Command.

Pabilonia said the bomb was connected to an electric wire and had a firing mechanism. He did not say whether the Abu Sayyaf planted the bomb, but the group is actively operating in the town. “We still cannot say if it was an Abu Sayyaf or not, but the operation against the terrorist group is ongoing,” he said.

The military have blamed the Abu Sayyaf group for the spate of killings, bombings and kidnappings in the troubled island, about 950 km south of Manila.

Washington offered as much as $5 million bounty for known Abu Sayyaf leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani. President Gloria Arroyo also put up P100 million rewards for the capture of the group’s leaders and their members dead or alive. The US included the group on its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Laguindingan Town In Misamis Oriental Is Best Site For New Airport In Northern Mindanao

June 29, 2006 at 12:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

 

 Proposed airport in Laguindingan town in Misamis Oriental province.

LAGUINGINDAN, MISAMIS ORIENTAL (Mike Banos / 29 Jun) The Laguindingan site is not only the best but also the only site available on which airport facilities can be developed to adequately meet the objective of improved, international standard air service for Northern Mindanao, including the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor (CIC).

Steven Doerr, senior airport engineer for Louis Berger International, Inc. (LBII) the consulting firm which conducted the feasibility study, master plan, initial geotechnical investigations and environmental impact study for the Laguindingan Airport in 1991, said in a report that geotechnical considerations should not inhibit the development of the Laguindingan Airport Development Project (LADP).

Doerr said detailed surveys of the proposed site should be undertaken, and would in any event need to be undertaken, during or before the design phase of the project. He added that the LADP site is the best available site and should be developed due to terrain and other operational constraints at the present Cagayan de Oro Airport in Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City.

Lumbia airport’s operational capability can’t be improved due to its surrounding high terrain which exceeds ICAO-recommended standards. Lengthening the runway would not affect these constraints.

Pending the results of further surveys, Doerr said it is likely that these concerns could be addressed in the design of the airfield pavements.

Since new airport facilities at Laguindingan would provide more efficient, unlimited operations at a higher level of service than an upgraded Lumbia airport, he recommended that further investigations/evaluations should be performed and that the LADP proceed.

Doerr said that at the time of the study in 1991, LBII recommended that detailed surveys and seismic testing be made to locate and evaluate the influence of underground caves and cavities on the design of airport facilities.

Such a study could also take into consideration lessons learned from the construction of the Mactan Airport which has similar soil characteristics as the Laguindingan airport site.

Doerr added that while LBII agrees that there are geotechnical concerns which must be evaluated and addressed, it should be stressed, however, that these concerns do not preclude the development of airport facilities at the Laguindingan site.

Given that the Laguindingan site, in the opinion of the Engineer, not only was the best site but the only site available on which airport facilities could be developed to adequately meet the objective of improved, international standard air service for the region, it was felt that the extent of any possible subsurface problems should be determined and that they could be economically compensated for in the design of the airfield pavements, Doerr’s report said.

Another issue which continues to be brought up against the Laguindingan Airport project is that there’s no need to invest in a new airport since the present Lumbia airport can be upgraded to handle wide-body jets which are now the standard for long-haul, international flights.

Doerr reiterated the previous findings of LBII that the development of Lumbia Airport as an alternative to a new CIC airport cannot be considered to provide “international standard airport facilities to meet commercial air transport needs,” as required by the LADP’s Terms of Reference.

While noting that the Lumbia airport can handle the forecast passenger traffic in the medium-term, operationally, night flights or wide-body aircraft operations is impossible and efficient, low-cost cargo operations would be limited.

Doerr noted that general air operations in the Lumbia airport vicinity are restricted by high terrain, with only very limited maneuvering possible south of the airport.

The key constraint in terms of aircraft take-off performance is the high terrain approximately 2,500 meters south of the airport. This piece of land is approximately 70 meters above the runway elevation, which exceeds ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) standards for the inner approach slope.

According to Philippine Airlines (PAL), this obstacle results in a six ton weight penalty for B737s on departures to the south.

Considering how Lumbia has already been missing out on high value fruit and vegetable shipments that are now shipped through Davao airport due to the bigger cargo capacities of the aircraft operating there, this becomes a very significant constraint on the further development of the fresh fruits and vegetable industry in Northern Mindanao.

The high terrain also affects instrument flight operations. Even with the existence of navigational aids such as the VOR/DME and ILS (Instrument Landing System), PAL restricts low-visibility operations because of the terrain’s effect on missed approach and circling operations.

Even at the time of the study in 1991, PAL believed that navigational aids and instrument procedures would not significantly improve the reliability of commercial air service at the Lumbia airport. PAL also indicated they would not assign wide-body aircraft to the Lumbia airport because of the terrain constraints in the airport vicinity.

Doerr noted that this represents an important limitation on Lumbia airport because as passenger levels grow, larger aircraft with lower average cost per seat-kilometer become more economical to operate.

Because of terrain constraints, Doerr said the Lumbia airport has permanent constraints related to 1) range of potential operational procedures; 2) installation of improved instrument procedures, and resulting enhancement of safety and adverse weather operational capacity; 3) operations by larger, more efficient aircraft; and 4) night and adverse weather operating restrictions.

Doerr also noted that while runway extensions for the airport have been proposed and programmed in the past, “it should be noted that such extensions would neither significantly reduce existing operational constraints at the Lumbia airport nor enhance its operational capacity.”

In contrast, the operation of the proposed international standard Laguindingan Airport will result to major economic benefits resulting from improved airport operational capabilities, including: a) potential for wide-body jet operations, potential for night commercial flights, instrument operations for both approaches and improved capability for commercial operations during adverse weather conditions.

Doerr said Lumbia airport’s operational capability in these respects cannot be improved due to the surrounding high terrain in excess of ICAO-recommended standards. Lengthening the runway would not affect these constraints.

On the other hand, the Laguindingan Airport can accommodate night flights. Due to its location near sea level it is anticipated that weather-related cancellations would decrease over those currently suffered at Lumbia.

Even with the ILS operational, it only serves the south approach and cannot bring in aircraft coming from the opposite direction during adverse weather conditions.
Larger, more comfortable and more economical wide-body aircraft could be accommodated in Laguindingan, and these would make significant amounts of reliable cargo space available to local shippers. Some 75% of all cargo shipped through the Lumbia airport are perishable agricultural products.

In summary, significant benefits can be realized with the development of new airport facilities at Laguindingan which will not be available to an upgraded Lumbia airport. (The author was actively involved in the planning for the Laguindingan Airport in 1995-1997 when he was planning officer for the Cagayan de Oro-Iligan Corridor Project Management Office, of which the CIC Airport is a top priority infrastructure project.)

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