Baguio still pursuing airport reopening

THE Baguio City government is not abandoning its plan to reopen the Loakan Airport for commercial flights, City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said. “We are not going to abandon it, but it’s not a priority at the moment. It’s not even viable to operate airlines right now. They are losing,” Mr. Magalong told BusinessWorld in a recent phone interview. He said Baguio City is looking to resume talks with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) by January next year. “By January na kasi busy pa rin kami sa pag-manage nitong COVID-19 and at the same time itong pag-boost ng economy (We will resume talks by January because we are still busy with the pandemic and boosting the local economy),” he explained. The city government started meeting with CAAP on the airport’s reopening in 2019. “We have been working with CAAP regarding the opening. In fact they already started cleaning it, but they temporarily stopped it because of the pandemic,” the mayor said. “We have been excited, pati yung (even) PAL express ay talagang (was really) excited.” In January this year, Mr. Magalong said San Miguel Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang had expressed interest to operate and manage the airport, which has been closed to commercial flights for more than a decade. — Arjay L. Balinbin

Quezon provincial gov’t to block Kaliwa Dam project

THE provincial government of Quezon has joined the opposition to the Kaliwa Dam project, a P12-billion joint venture of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and China Energy Engineering Corporation Limited (CEECL) that is intended as a medium-term water supply source for the capital region. “I’m with you, I don’t like Kaliwa dam either. If you would continue Kaliwa Dam, I’d see you in court,” Governor Danilo E. Suarez told members of Save Sierra Madre Network when he visited Real, Infanta, and General Nakar towns in Quezon on Nov. 28. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan or provincial board passed a resolution on Nov. 27 giving Mr. Suarez authority to take steps, on behalf of the provincial government, to stop the project. The resolution was approved by 11 of the 13 provincial board members. Catholic church leaders in the province also renewed their opposition, saying the fight was a matter of “survival of the people.” Bishop Bernardino Cortez of the prelature of Infanta said the dam would pose risks to lowland agricultural and fishing communities with a history of flash flooding. Mr. Cortez called on government to look for alternative water sources such as watershed rehabilitation and improve existing dams and water facilities. Kaliwa Dam, a flagship project of the government, has yet to start construction. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Marawi rehabilitation projects could be done ahead of Dec. 2021 target — Del Rosario

TASK Force Bangon Marawi Chair Eduardo D. del Rosario (in black vest) during a visit to Marawi in the last week of November. — DHSUD PHOTO RELEASE

REHABILITATION projects in war-torn Marawi City could be completed by August, ahead of the December 2021 target, according to Housing Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario. “Lahat ng ongoing projects ngayon matatapos sila sa (All our ongoing projects now will be finished by the) early part of the fourth quarter or about August or September of next year… which is ahead of the December 2021 target,” Mr. Del Rosario, who heads the Marawi rehabilitation task force, said in a briefing on Monday. He added that groundbreaking ceremonies are being planned in January for the remaining projects under the rehabilitation program, including permanent housing for displaced residents. Marawi’s central part, including commercial and residential areas, was devastated by a five-month intense firefight between government forces and local extremist groups allied with the Islamic State who started a siege in May 2017. — Gillian M. Cortez