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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

President Aquino confirms expansion of Tawi-Tawi airport

By Dominic I. Sanchez

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi – President Benigno S. Aquino III on Saturday personally confirmed to the residents of Tawi-Tawi that the Sanga-Sanga airport is due to be expanded and developed, as funds for this project have already been appropriated.

“We will need to buy land for the airport expansion and runway widening,” President Aquino said, adding that the cost would be P826-million.

The President shared that the P248-million initial amount is already with the 2015 budget, while the remaining P578-million has already been appropriated for next year’s budget.

He called on the local officials to talk with the landowners to ensure that they will not jack up the prices of the land.

As shared by a local tourism council member to the President, domestic tourists in the city in previous years have been recorded to be only at about 200 in a year. “However, in recent times, they have noted 60,000 tourist arrivals in a year,” President Aquino said.

The President joked that when the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would be passed, “maybe your problem will be having far more tourists that you can manage.”

“Gusto nating paunlarin ang Sanga-Sanga Airport (we want to develop the Sanga-Sanga Airport),” President Aquino said adding, “upang mapadali ang transportasyon at mapalago ang turismo (so transportation will be faster and there will be more influx of tourists).”

Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Abaya, who accompanied the President in Tawi-Tawi shared that they are also exploring the opening of Cebu-Tawi-Tawi flights via Cebu Pacific.

Tawi-Tawi is the southernmost province in the country, and is blessed with white sand beaches, exotic marine life and fine delicacies. Besides that, it is a leading producer of cassava, among other farm and marine products, and through the infrastructure projects, delivery of these goods will be shortened exponentially to the end-users and consumers. Better accessibility is also seen by the local and national government to boost tourism.

The Aquino administration has poured in millions of pesos for infrastructure projects in the province, including roads and bridges that now link farms in mainland Panglima Sugala to the provincial commercial center in Bongao.