Political battle looms after historic landing

By Dave S. Albarado

The so-called historic landing at the new Bohol international airport the other weekmaynow as well be labeledas a “historic political breakup in Bohol,” which according to several sources, was a nasty scheme orchestrated by thinktanks at Malacañang.

On the surface, it first appeared that several media personalities in Bohol were never informed of the event, but recent disturbing revelations have surfaced that even Bohol Gov. Edgar M. Chatto was also kept out of the loop.

The twist of the plot has unleasheda political powder keg with an explosive payload that could trigger anuclear-bomb-like damage on relations among top Bohol government leaders unlessthe “feeling of being betrayed” is immediately arrested.

The historic landing could end up asthe turning point ushering changesin thepolitical landscape of the province as one Bohol Tribune source wants to put it.

As the smoke clears, the historic landing turned out to be a historic divorce among longtime political allies, which may be an initial foray into the realignment of forces in anticipation ofthe 2019 elections.

A Capitol source has confirmed to the Bohol Tribunethat the provincial government had no clue about the historic landing.

The source said timely information relayed to the governor averted what could have been a colossal publicity disaster where the governor of Bohol province could have appearedsitting outside the fenceas the first plane makes its historic touchdown on the newly paved 2,500-meter runway.

But Provincial Administrator Ae Damalerio II saved the day and rescued the governor from becoming a victim of shaming game allegedly orchestrated by Malacañang’s political lieutenants.

Damalerio, who is known to have a platoon of “pilot connections,” eventually managed to make his own historic landing at the Panglao airport aboard a private jet.

The same source said Gov. Chatto was outside Tagbilaran when informed about the impending historic landing.

The source said Chatto and his team had to dash to Panglao on lightningspeed before history could beconcocted without his presence.

With the governor arriving in the nick of time, he was able to welcome the top members of the Duterte administration who made the historic landing, said the source.

Sought to comment whether the governor was not informed about the historic landing, the Tribune sent a text message to Gov. Chatto last night.

Until press time, a text message asking for confirmation of the information provided by the Tribune sourcewent without reply.

Curiously, it appearedthat though the province was made blind of the historic landing, the city government already had all the information about the event ahead of time, as shown on a Facebook post by city information officer Fiel Angelie Araoarao-Gabin.

“Since the airport is a project of the province, why is it that the city was informed, and not the province”? the source pointed out.

The Tribune’s source added, the “snub” allegedly caught the ire of the governor.

Some quarters at the Capitol see the plot twist as an act of aggression, and presumablyit has something to do with political ambitions for the 2019 polls.

HISTORIC MEDIA BLINDNESS

Despite the newsworthiness of the event, media coverage was wanting.

Only a handful of media personalities present during the so-called historic landing. Many of the members of the media were not informed about the event, which is a huge turning point in the history of Bohol.

The New Bohol Airport is perhaps one of the biggest projects that could be a huge gamechanger for the province, and the first landing is something that is worthy of coverage.

A few media personalities attended, however.As a result, veneer coverage was given to the supposedly historic event. The first landing, despite the kind of aircraft used, remains to be historic.

Another source told the Tribune that there was a set-up in the airport suggesting there could be a press conference prepared allegedly complete with food packs.

A press conference never took place as the malicious secrecy of the event was already exposed.

Sources said that if the governor did not arrive, a press conference could havepushed through.

However, the claim of a set-up for a press conference cannot be independently confirmed.

To clear the air, a member of the Effective Development Communications Unit (Edcom) of the provincial government, writer Ven C. Arigo, told media personalities that even the provincial government’s information arm was put in the darkness.

Without proper coordination, the Edcom team was unable to provide information or obligatory coverage advisory to members of Bohol media about the event since the office had no prior information about the so-called historic landing.

With no advisory, enterprising journalists had to scrape information elsewhere, so they can cover the event.

A day before the historic landing, City Hall’s Gabin had leaked on Facebook aboutthe upcoming event, but the post was lacking in detail.

As of last night, Gabin’s “historic” post had since been deleted, triggering speculations among media personalities in Bohol that her online disclosure was unauthorized by higher authorities.

Tribune tried to verify with the Edcom’s head Augustus Escobia whether the post of Gabin was true.

Escobiadisclosed his office had no clue about the secretive landing on November 7.

As such, most media workers were not informed and failed to cover what is considered a huge event in the history of Bohol.

After the incident, several media personalities, including members of the Tribune team took to social media to air sentiments about the event.

Bohol Tri-Media Association (BTMA) President Tibbs Bullecer aired his side by commenting on a Facebook post.

Bullecer said he too was not informed about the event.

He said he was unaware of the event as he was only told by his “manager” to proceed to the airport. He thought he will be at the airport to discuss engineering matters since he is a civil engineer.

Upon his arrival, Bullecer said he saw other media personalities already at the airport area. Only thendid he learn about the test flight event. He claimed he was initially barred entryby the guards at the airport.

Bullecer said harping on the BTMA about the non-inclusion of other members of the media is uncalled for since if it was a government event, the government’s attention should be called and not the leadership of the media group in Bohol.

The BTMA president said the event was not a “pure government affair” since the governor and administrator Damalerio were not told about the event based on the information Bullecer had gathered.

MAYOR BABA YAP’S REACTION

The Tribune sought for comments on the city’s side about the historic landing to clear up the perception the city was informed but the province was not.

Mayor John Geesnell “Baba” Yap told the Tribune via a telephone interview last night that he was only informed about the landing in such short notice.

While Edcom claimed it was not informed, it probably the national coordinators informed directly the leaders, said Yap.As such, the young mayor believes, the governor was directly informed, like what national coordinating officials did to him.

The Tagbilaran mayor believes, since the governor was present in the event, Chatto got information about the historic landing of the plane carrying Department of Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade, Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio “Toloy” Evasco Jr. and National Economic Development Authority Sec. Gen. Ernesto Pernia, which landed on the runway of the New Bohol Airport.

The mayor said it was suchshort notice and he had to cancel other engagements that day to have time for national officials who were in attendance.

MAYOR NILA MONTERO’S REACTION

The Tribune also sought the comment of Panglao Mayor Nila Montero whether she was informed and invited about the historic landing at the New Bohol Airport.

Curiously, the mayor of the town hosting the airport was not seen in the photos of the historic landing that circulated online.

Her absence in the photos circulating prompted the Tribune to verify whether Montero was present during the event.

Montero said she was invited to the event but was unable to attend as she was in Manila at that time. In a text message, she said Panglao Vice Mayor Pedro Fuertes as OIC mayor and town administrator Alejandro Arbutante came in her stead.

A midnight text message from Montero, on the other hand, had confirmed that her invitation to the historic landing came directly from CabSec. Evasco.

The CURIOUS CASE OF FIRST LANDING

The New Bohol Airport is being constructed and slated to be completed by 2018. The runway is expected to be completed by end of the year and the terminal by February next year.

Three key officials of the Duterte administration made the historic landing using a private jet.

In an interview with some media personalities, Tugade said he and two other Cabinet officials made the landing to fulfill a promise made.

Tugade promised to come back and inspect the progress of the New Bohol Airport.

He got a briefing from the project directors about the status of the project. While the project hit a snag, everything is still within schedule as the airport is expected to be completed by June 2018 and will be fully operational by August 2018.

The airport will be able to accommodate seven aircraft at any given time, with a capacity of 2 million passengers per year.

The current Tagbilaran City Airport can accommodate only 800,000 passengers per annum.

The P7.8 billion airport will sport a terminal spanning 13,337 square meters. The airport will serve as a gateway to Panglao, known as the paradise island of Bohol.

The New Bohol Airport will be an eco-airport, which is first of its kind in the country. The airport will be using natural lighting and will use natural air. Areas where people will be staying for some time, such as the pre-departure area, control rooms, and offices, will have some air-conditioning.

The new airport will be using LED lighting, which is more effective and energy efficient.

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