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Rody cites Cebu Pacific for role in Mindanao dev’t

President Duterte salutes members of the Army’s 1st Infantry Battalion as they prepare to leave the Laguindingan Airport yesterday. Soldiers of the 1IB were among the first to be deployed in Marawi when the battle against the terrorists broke out almost five months ago.

LAGUINDINGAN, Misamis Oriental  , Philippines  —  Cebu Pacific has designated Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro as its new hub to strengthen its route network and provide more connections to and from Mindanao.

Leading the launch of Cebu Pacific’s new hub – its 7th – President Duterte lauded the Gokongwei family for continuously expanding the airlines’ domestic routes despite lingering threats of terrorism. He also said Cebu Pacific’s move has unlocked more opportunities for entrepreneurs like his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña.

Cagayan de Oro was one of the first domestic destinations launched by Cebu Pacific.

“What was originally the fourth destination launched back in 1996, is now a hub. It follows the path of Manila, Cebu and Iloilo, also hubs. Today is a testament to our long-standing commitment to contribute to nation-building and make air travel more accessible to Filipinos,” Cebu Pacific president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei said.

“We look forward to the effect our low fares and direct flights will have on Northern Mindanao,” he said.

The airport, which has a 7,200-square meter passenger terminal and a 2,100-meter runway, is capable of four takeoffs and landings per hour.

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Inaugurated in 2013, the airport has become the sixth busiest in the country servicing over 1.7 million passengers per year.

At present, the Cebu Pacific group has the following connections to the Laguindingan Airport: Manila, Bacolod, Caticlan, Cebu, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, Davao and Zamboanga.

Cebu Pacific also expects the development of a new hub to increase the capacity and reach of its cargo service and ultimately facilitate the movement of goods across the country. 

Cebu Pacific is aiming to carry 20 million passengers this year.  For the January to June period this year, the carrier served 10.09 million passengers.

Duterte praised Cebu Pacific for its contribution to Mindanao development.

“Despite the current situation in Marawi City, Cebu Pacific has been the promise of what Mindanao can be and can become in the coming years,” said the only chief executive who hailed from Mindanao.

“It is my hope and that its officials and employees will become our partners in effecting meaningful and lasting changes in society inasmuch become a testament that the Filipino entrepreneur spirit is resilient and bold,” Duterte said.

Duterte also enjoined Filipino entrepreneurs to make the Philippines a progressive community filled with opportunities for the next generation.

“Together, let us realize our vision for a safer and more comfortable life for all,” Duterte said, reading from a prepared speech before going back to his impromptu remarks that touched on drugs and his tiff with the opposition.

“And I have to credit Cebu Pacific for its rise – ang galing – question of management ‘yan eh – and of course, talent and enterprise, which the family Gokongwei has,” he said, adding that he and Lance have been friends for a long time.

In his remarks, Duterte also said that like the Gokongweis, Honeylet has proven her business acumen enhanced by hard work and the drive to learn from experience.

“They understand the whole gamut of how men are gainfully employed and how to run a business little by little,” the President said of businessmen like the Gokongwei family and his partner.

Duterte said Avanceña, 47, runs 14 donut outlets and distributes meat products in Davao. – With Louella Desiderio, Christina Mendez, Edith Regalado

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