A second runaway for Mactan is a must or else!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

My apologies to our faithful viewers on our Talkshow Straight from the Sky because our show on the Future of Cebu's Mass Transportation System could not be aired last Monday because of a technical glitch. The files we used for that taping got corrupted but somehow we managed to recover at least 90% of the file so this show will be aired today at 8:00 p.m. on channel 61.

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Yesterday at the 888 News Forum at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, I was expecting the Filinvest/Changi group to grace the forum, but it did not show up. It just makes you wonder, what Filinvest is up to these days? I mean, it is just so surprising for me that a second bidder (some say a sore loser) would spend so much money trying to bring down the winning bidder, Mega wide/GMR group. But since, I got a call from our Freeman Editor Quennie Bronce that Filinvest is inviting us to a presscon tomorrow, I will hold my punches until we meet the Filinvest people.

A couple of weeks ago, we did meet the Megawide/GMR people, namely, Mr. Andrew Acquaah-Harrison, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Delhi International Airport Limited, Mr. Manish Kalghatgi, Group Head of the GMR Corporation and Mr. Louie Ferrer of Megawide at the same 888 News Forum and subjected them to a most intense scrutiny.

One of the things I threw at them was the serious lack of a second runway, which Mr. Harrison remarked that the Department of Transportation & Communications (DOTC) deemed unnecessary at this time. That was a revelation to me — that DOTC officials did not study the future of aviation in Cebu and I can only blame it on the system of political patronage. Because whenever we have a new President, the top executives of the government are replaced with new kids on the block and therefore it doesn't promote any continuity of infrastructure projects.

For the past 15 years, while I was still a director at the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), I always said it was time to prepare for a second runway in order to assure the continued economic growth of Cebu well into the next 50 years. But the DOTC wouldn't budge and the area where we are supposed to have the second runway has now been littered with new subdivisions and homes. But all is not lost. The Cebuano political leadership must put a stop to the construction of those houses by creating a "No-build Zone" to assure Cebu's future growth.

Too many Cebuano business leaders hold meetings and seminars to map out the future of Cebu. Yet no group has taken the cudgels to demand that we should identify and create a "No-build Zone" alongside the General Aviation area of MCIA. This is where we need an organization like MEGA Cebu or the Cebu Chamber to spearhead this move otherwise Cebu will go the way of the traffic congestion that is happening at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) which has become a hopeless case. So Mr. Dondi Joseph and Tess Chan, I hope you will make this a priority for your groups.

While the Mactan Airport deal is still a cliff-hanger until the end of March when the DOTC would finally decide whom to award this airport deal, my good friend, Rep. Raul del Mar was also at the 888 News Forum with Rep. Bebot Abellanosa. Rep. del Mar gave me a thumbs up that indicated he has finally filed again the bill that I requested him to file, which is dubbed the Metro Cebu Traffic Authority (MCTA).

MCTA would put all the agencies of the government like the Land Transportation Office, the Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Department of Public Works & Highways (DPWH) into one Superbody that would handle all matters that would affect our mass transportation system and our road networks. MCTA would be akin to MCIAA and the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA).

Meanwhile still on the 888 News Forum, Major Merrill Sumalinog, Regional Commander Defense Group (RCDG) of the Philippine Army was there to promote the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) which is close to our hearts. His call to join the ROTC was supported by Dr. Paulos Cañete, president of the Talisay City College.

My readers know that I have been pushing for the return of the ROTC to make it compulsory like what we had in the past. I have always maintained that the ROTC is the only subject in school that teaches us to love and even die for our country. Today with Global Climate change, all the more we need the ROTC as they can provide the warm bodies that could help disaster stricken areas for search and rescue operations. This is not to mention that we need the ROTC now because of the threats of China.

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Email: [email protected]

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