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Construction of first-ever airport in Basilan mulled

COTABATO CITY — Two Bangsamoro regional agencies and the office of the provincial governor in Basilan will jointly study the viability of setting up an airport in the island province to boost its economy.

Basilan, home to mixed Muslim and Christian residents, is now touted as the new investment hub in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that also covers the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Lanao del Sur, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and the cities of Lamitan, Marawi and Cotabato.

BARMM’s transportation and communications minister, Paisalin Tago, told reporters on Thursday that the Bangsamoro government and the office of Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Salliman forged on Wednesday in Zamboanga City an agreement on a joint feasibility study on the planned construction of an airport in Barangay Calugusan in Lamitan City in the province.

The Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority, or BPDA, and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications-BARMM are parties to the Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, signed by representatives of both regional agencies, by Salliman and Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay.

“We are looking forward to a fruitful outcome of this joint endeavor. We are sure this airport project will improve commerce and trade in Basilan. This is a longtime wish by me and my constituents,” Salliman said on Thursday.

Tago said that they want the Basilan Airport Development Project to push through for peace and sustainable development to spread around the province.

“There is peace now in Basilan and this project can certainly boost the island’s economy,” Tago said.

Basilan has 11 towns and two cities, Lamitan and Isabela.Salliman and an official of the BPDA, Engineer Mohajarin Ali, MoTC-BARMM’s representatives and Furigay signed the MOU during a symbolic rite in one of the function facilities of the Marcian Hotel in Zamboanga City, in the presence of other provincial officials, among them Vice Gov. Yusop Alano and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Basilan had, in the late 1960s to 1980s, small airstrips in rubber plantations in the province, one of which was that of the transnational BF Goodrich tire manufacturer, but all