By Charissa Luci
Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo is urging the Duterte administration to convert the Balo-I Airport, known as the Maria Cristina Airport, into a base of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to augment the security forces in Lanao region.
He asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr), in coordination with the PAF, to convert the airport into an air base for the military.
Dimaporo noted that Balo-I airport has been closed ever since Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental became operational in 2011 to serve the Iligan-Cagayan de Oro corridor.
“The general area of Iligan City, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur is often subjected to attacks from armed groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the more recent Maute Terrorist Group,” Dimaporo said in filing House Resolution 1252.
“There is a need to augment the security forces in the Lanao region and the Balo-I airport can be utilized as an Air Force base to stage aerial missions in response to threats, ” he said.
Balo-I Airport is classified as a secondary airport by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
Despite the military’s formal termination of its operations in Marawi City, Mindanao remains under the state of martial law.
Last July 22, the House of Representatives and the Senate, in a special joint session, overwhelmingly approved President Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31.
A total of 261 Congress members, including 16 senators voted in favor, while 18 opposed the martial law extension.