TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile slammed the proposal of Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba to put up a third airport in the province.
In an interview in his rest house in Santa Ana town, Enrile said only a “stupid person” will think of building another airport in the province.
Currently, the province has two airports: the Tuguegarao City Airport and the Lal-lo International Airport in Lal-lo town.
Mamba had earlier asked for the funding for the acquisition of lands for an international airport in the tri-boundary of Amulung, Tuao, and Solana.
This was met by mixed reactions in the public, and Enrile, Mamba’s nemesis, is among those who are not happy about it.
“Naku, ano ang traffic niya? Sino ang sasakay? Siya,” Enrile said.
“Only a stupid person will think that he needs a third airport in a population such as we have in Cagayan. Who will go there,” he added.
In reply, Governor Mamba said Enrile was the one stupid for creating the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).
“But then I think, ang talagang stupidity na nangyari is the CEZA. Because of CEZA, it has not become an international sea port up to now, it even closed ‘yung talaga airport natin sa Aparri, napabayaan nila, that is stupidity. That is the stupidity of Enrile,” Mamba said.
Mamba, a frequent critic of the Lal-lo airport, disclosed that all congressmen in the North Luzon Growth Quadrangle, except Enrile’s son Jack, had opposed the building of airport in Northern Cagayan.
Most congressmen, according to him, had lamented that it would be too far in the provinces of Isabela, Kalinga, and Apayao.
“So ang sabi nila, it could be within the vicinity of Tuguegarao, if Tuguegarao could not converted into an international airport dahil maliit nga,” Mamba said.
Mamba also blasted Enrile for “failing” to prove that CEZA could be the avenue of connecting the province to the world through its ports.
“It never happened, what happened to CEZA? It became the haven of money laundering, it has became the haven of jueteng, it has became the haven of smuggling,” Mamba said.
‘CEZA not mine’
Enrile also belied the criticisms that he is manning CEZA operations.
CEZA had met the ire of Mamba during the administration of its former chief executive officer (CEO) Jose Mari Ponce, with the governor saying it is “a microcosm of illegal activities” in the province.
“Totoo ‘yun, hindi ako ang may-ari ng CEZA, ang may-ari ng CEZA, sambayanang Pilipino. ‘Yung airport, hindi sa akin ‘yun. Prinomote lang namin ‘yun,” Enrile said, referring to the Lal-lo airport.
Enrile in 1995 authored the creation of CEZA through Republic Act 7922, otherwise known as the “Cagayan Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.”
This has led to speculations that the former senator had been the brain of all operations of the economic zone, which he vehemently denied, saying they were only “active in promoting CEZA.”
“We are active. We are promoting the place. In fact, Jack (his son) is giving me a year and he will be able to put up major projects here, with the project that he has set up,” Enrile added. Northernforum.net