By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. respects the resolution seeking to oust the top officials of Iloilo Airport but emphasized his understanding of the stringent processes they must follow for the airport’s expansion.
“I respect the decision of the Regional Development Council-Infrastructure Development Committee of Western Visayas (RDC-IDC 6), especially since it is a committee[…] They are composed of public officials and stakeholders working for the region’s development,” said Defensor in a press conference on Wednesday.
He noted that he wants to maintain a good relationship with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Area VI (CAAP-6) and the management of Iloilo Airport.
Defensor emphasized his understanding that government offices like CAAP-6 have to follow a specific process for the proposed expansion and repair of several facilities at the airport.
“We already understand the process and procurement. They encounter problems at the airport in the procurement process and improvement. It will take a while to improve our airport and the other utilities as well,” the governor stressed.
In a resolution approved on November 8, the RDC-IDC 6 sought to “remove and replace” Iloilo Airport manager Manuela Luisa Palma and Engr. Eusebio Monserate Jr., acting area manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Area VI (CAAP-6).
This decision came after their absence at the council’s meeting on the proposed expansion of Iloilo Airport on the same day the resolution was approved.
The resolution pointed out that Iloilo Airport is “not in good condition and cannot accommodate the increasing passenger and cargo traffic.”
The development committee also highlighted that several facilities and equipment at the airport need repair and improvement, particularly the non-working escalators and chillers.
“The main escalator at the airport is inoperable, awaiting replacement of parts, resulting in discomfort and reduced mobility for the public, particularly people with disabilities, children, pregnant women, and senior citizens. Only two chillers are fully operational, while the remaining two chillers are 50 percent operational,” the resolution read.
For the maintenance of the airport, Defensor said he will lobby for the budget in the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of the province.
The governor said his stance for the upgrade and expansion of the airport the soonest possible remains the same.
To further expedite the process for the expansion, Defensor mentioned that he is considering writing a letter to Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo, Jr., the Special Assistant to the President, and the president himself, President Marcos Jr.
“It would be good for us to be informed that the expansion of our Iloilo Airport is necessary,” he said.
It can be recalled that in August this year, Defensor took the oath as a new member of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), the political party of the president.
The governor explained that switching to PFP brings an “alignment [which] is better for the total development of the province.”
The governor’s father, former governor Arthur Defensor Sr., was a “freedom fighter” during the dictatorship of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr., father of the current president.
Arthur Defensor Sr. was also appointed to the Presidential Commission on Good Government which traced and recovered the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.