MCIA transfer disturbing to MEPZ locators!


This week is Press Freedom Week and today’s activity at the Fernan Press Center is a forum entitled: Reaching Out to New Sources: Government and Media in a World with No Wangwang” and our speaker is Mr. Cito Beltran, a fellow columnist from The Philippine Star at 9:00am and this will be followed by a board meeting of the Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation (CENEWOF) also at the Fernan Press Center.

 Let me point out that Cebu’s celebration of Press Freedom Week is now on its 17th year and it is unparalleled in this country as they have no such celebration in Manila by our counterparts in the media there. This gives Cebuano journalists a special bond akin to the Band of Brothers only found with journalists in Cebu. Unfortunately, I could not attend the early morning activities last Sunday as we were scheduled to visit the US ship USS Russell.

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 During the America in 3D Roadshow, I got to meet up with friends, executives of the Mactan Cebu Export Processing Zone Authority (MEPZ) and I learned that some foreign companies are uneasy because of the news reports about the transfer of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to Cordova. This was the cockamamie idea brought forth by Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s South District and supported by Cordova Mayor Abe Sitoy and Rep. Luigi Quisumbing, which we already chastised!

 What I gathered was quite disturbing because the news on the possible transfer of MCIA to Cordova has sort of put a hold on the future plans of many MEPZ companies, although at this time they won’t publicly admit it yet. What few people, perhaps even our members of Congress do not realize is that, MCIA isn’t just an ordinary international airport. It is next door to the MEPZ I & II where most of our Foreign Direct Investors (FDIs) have invested for many years now because of the special privileges that the MEPZ provides, plus the added convenience of being beside an international airport. This is not to mention that they employ thousands of Filipinos paying more than average pay compared to locally based companies.

 What the proponents of the airport transfer did not realize is that since MCIA is a mere 8 kilometers away from Cordova, if and when we get to effect this transfer years from now, there will be a time when there would be no flights in and out of Cebu, simply because Cordova is on the same flight path as MCIA. So when flight operations are ready in the new Cordova Airport, there will be teething problems that could lead to a shut down of airport operations. This is something no one ever thought about.

 It was different when the Kai Tak International Airport in Hong Kong was shut down when the new Chep Lap Kok Airport was opened because they did not immediately shut down operations in Kai Tak Airport. The same thing will happen in the transfer of the new Laguindingan Airport from the old Cagayan de Oro Airport as they are a distance from each other.

 Meanwhile, what can we expect from the airport authority or the MCIAA? When I left as a Director in MCIAA, one of our not-so-far-into-the future plans was to build a parallel runway and a new international terminal. This brings me to ask, are all these projects supposedly in the pipeline also on hold until we came up with a Master Plan for Cebu as to where we should have a final location for our international airport? Shades of the flyover controversy!

 At this point, I suggest that someone ought to stop this nonsense as it has caused unnecessary anxiety amongst MEPZ investors, which could be detrimental to the economy in Cebu when investor confidence drops down. I’m writing this because every now and then, the newspaper reporters come out with press releases supporting this transfer project, which only causes unnecessary anxiety to the investors who are already doing business here. I have said it here that it was a bad idea when Rep. Tomas Osmeña brought this idea to the attention of the public… it is still a bad idea today.

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 Speaking of infrastructure projects, SunStar Daily featured a story on page A8 about the plight of my sister-in-law Nanette Ouano Avila, wife of my brother Rene, who complained to Cebu City that her family (on her mother’s side) has not been paid for the road lot that was used for widening the road that took part of her property. This is one thing that anti-flyover proponents never cared to look into, which is why I’m against widening simply because there is no money from the government to pay for the properties that would be widened. If you didn’t know, the DPWH began widening that short stretch of Escario St. on Feb, 2002. This project has taken 9-years and is not yet finished! Road widening? You anti-flyover folks ought to wake up to reality!

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