COTABATO CITY — Dormant from its inception more than a decade ago, the Central Mindanao Airport (CMA) in Cotabato province has come closer than ever to completion now that it has secured an additional P260-million allocation from Congress.

On Tuesday, merchants in the province and in the Bangsamoro region expressed elation that the funding needed to complete the airport has been drawn from the congressional funds of Cotabato Rep. Samantha T. Santos and Party-list Rep. Raymond D. Mendoza.

“That airport, once operational, shall become a magnet that can surely attract local and foreign capitalists,” Ronald Hallid D. Torres, chairman of the Bangsamoro Business Council, said.

In a meeting with them last Monday, Ms. Santos announced that the funds pooled from her and Mr. Mendoza’s offices had been earmarked for the airport’s in-house fire station, control tower and other necessary structures at the CMA property in Barangay Tawan-Tawan in Mlang.

Last May, Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” J. Taliño-Mendoza and Ms. Santos appealed to Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista to prioritize the funding of the CMA project, which still required P485 million to be completed.

A project started in 2009, the CMA is strategically located near the provincial capital of Kidapawan City, making it more accessible than the Cotabato City Airport in Maguindanao del Norte for the mixed Muslim-Christian business groups in Mlang and its neighboring towns of Matalam, Kabacan, and Tulunan, all in Cotabato, and Datu Paglas in Maguindanao del Sur.

Also, its runway is designed much longer, wider and graded for larger commercial aircraft.

Mabel Lynnel A. Calungsod, chairperson of the Cotabato Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise Development Council, said they are certain of a boom in the business climate in all of the towns around the CMA once it starts operating.

Meanwhile, Mlang Water District Manager Robert S. Cadiena and Joel V. De Guzman, who is overseeing the operation of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative, assured during their dialogue with the congresswoman that they shall provide technical support for the setting up of the airport. — John Felix M. Unson