By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he is just doing his job and there is nothing personal in a resolution that seeks the removal and replacement of the top officials of the Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan town.
“Ubra lang. Walang personalan,” said Treñas, who also chairs the Regional Development Council-Infrastructure Development Committee of Western Visayas (RDC-IDC 6).
In a press conference on Monday, the city mayor said that the resolution that seeks the ouster of the two top aviation officials could be reconsidered.
“If the infrastructure development committee finds that their absence is justified, I have no objection to rescinding our resolution,” he said.
Treñas mentioned that 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), personally apologized for their absence, explaining that they were unaware of the scheduled meeting.
“Nagpangayo sila pasesnya. Wala gid sila kuno kabalo ka meeting,” he said, noting that the council’s secretariat sent the notice of the meeting to the CAAP central office which was not properly communicated to the regional office officials.
Treñas mentioned that CAAP-6’s letter explaining their absence was sent for evaluation to other members of the infrastructure development committee.
In a resolution approved on November 8, the RDC-IDC 6 sought to remove and replace the top officials following their no-show at the council’s meeting on the proposed expansion of the Iloilo Airport. The resolution was approved the same day the meeting was held.
The resolution also pointed out a “leadership crisis” at Iloilo Airport, emphasizing the need for “new, responsive, and more active management” to address ongoing concerns.
Despite the apology, Treñas maintained his stance that the Iloilo Airport requires rehabilitation and expansion.
“While they say that their absence was justified based on their explanation, the fact remains that the escalator is not working, the air conditioning machines are only operating at 50 percent, and the comfort rooms are smelly. It’s no longer the Iloilo Airport that we used to know,” he stressed.
“After almost 20 years [since its inauguration], nagdamo na gid ang tawo. Gutok na siya. Kinahanglan na gid ang programa [for rehabilitation],” he added.
The Iloilo Airport, which was inaugurated in 2004, currently serves seven domestic flights with a total of 20 daily flights. Its main passenger terminal also has a capacity of around 450 passengers and can cater to only 1.2 million passengers per year.
Treñas also noted that he cannot help but compare the Bacolod-Silay Airport’s development to that of the Iloilo Airport.
“Waay man ako naga ano pero ang Bacolod may fund for repairs […] (The Iloilo Airport) is being called the fifth busiest airport in the Philippines and they should have [long-term] plans for this,” he said.
According to CAAP, there is a proposed P80 million budget for the improvement of the Bacolod-Silay Airport. The fund is intended for the maintenance and development of the airport next year.
Treñas also called out the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to expedite the process, emphasizing that the CAAP operates under the jurisdiction of the department.
“It is the primary responsibility of the DOTr to ensure that there are improvements made in the airport, and I think every Ilonggo who is using the airport should demand that; we have every right to demand,” he added.