Airport runway repair project breaks ground PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 September 2014 16:28

Degraded areas of the Zamboanga airport runway will undergo repair in the next few weeks courtesy of the American government through the Joint Special Operations Task Force (JSOTF) to ensure smooth air travel for all.

This, after the groundbreaking ceremonies for the airport runway repair project Friday morning spearheaded by Mayor Beng Climaco, Maj. Matt Bartlett of the JSOTF, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Chief of Staff MGen. Artemio Corrosco,  Vice Mayor Cesar Iturralde and Western Mindanao Command Chief LGen. Rustico Guerrero and attended by multi-stakeholders.

Some  $150,000 or approximately P6million has been allocated to rehabilitate the degraded portions stretching through 1.8 kilometers. The project will be undertaken by Wee Builders, a local contractor.

Maj. Bartlett said the project is certainly not to benefit JSOTF aircrafts but for all aircrafts flying in to Zamboanga City—be it civilian or those used by the AFP forces.

Corrosco, representing CAAP Director Gen. William Hotchkiss said the project is has far greater meaning when viewed from the perspective of enhancing air connectivity of provinces of Zamboanga City not only to the entire country but the world as well. “This repair also affirms CAAP’s diligent and sustained drive to promote safety and security to air travellers.”

But Corrosco stressed, beyond the numerous implications for the implementation of the project, is the bond of cooperation and assistance of the American government through the JSOTF and the Philippine government to promte economic growth and development.

Zamboanga airport manager Abareta hailed Mayor Climaco for the initiative and help in realizing  the project at no cost to the Philippine government and CAAP in particular.

We are pleased that after a long and careful assessment of the mayor’s request it came to a realization –our collective efforts have bore fruit—the advocacy to build back zambo has reached our airport which coincide to that of our Director General LGen. William Hotchkiss to sustain our newly regained category status ot provide safe and secure airport- toward his vision of CAAP light plan 2020,” Abareta declared.

For her part, Mayor Climaco expressed elation that what started as a consequence of the 911 bombing was a response to help the Philippines to protect the country’s borders against terrorism. “Nowadays we experience the threat not only locally but internationally and as the JSOTF team nears its end of its presence in Zamboanga, it’s God’s perfect timing not before but today, why today? Because Zamboanga City is slowly rising from the [devastations wrought by the] attack we had a year ago and in the presence of CAAP and JSOTF as well as Wesmincom, police and military, we are here to make sure that we are building back a better Zamboanga City.”

It will be recalled that Mayor Climaco had personally appealed to former US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr., when the latter paid his exit call on the local chief executive in City Hall last year, to help repair the airport’s runway.

Climaco echoed similar request to the new US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg when the latter paid a courtesy visit to City Hall late last year.

The mayor’s request was anchored on the fact that the American aircraft and servicemen participating in the military exercises with Filipino soldiers under “Balikatan” have been using the airport facilities especially the runway since the war games started few years ago.

Climaco believes that the airstrip has worn out with the times that it needs rehabilitation to ensure the safety of the aircrafts and passengers flying in and out of the city.

Also present during the groundbreaking ceremonies were members of the City Council, 3rd Air Wing Commander MGen. Emeraldo Magnaye, PAF, City Police Director Col. Angelito Casimiro, City Engineer Luis Despalo and representatives from different agencies and other sectors. — Sheila Covarrubias