HOW much weight will the Cebuanos’ voice have in the proposal to rename the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Lapu-Lapu Cebu International Airport?

Online comments and an informal poll by SunStar Cebu expressed sentiments against the proposal, yet it appears that the renaming of the airport will happen soon. The little that is needed at this point is to complete the legislative process.

Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar has said the measure that he authored, House Bill 8170, is approved by the House committee on transportation. The name “Cebu” was added to the original proposal of Lapu-Lapu International Airport. The House bill aims to honor Lapu-Lapu as the Philippines’ first hero and to make the name of the airport consistent with the city’s name and location. What is needed to formalize the name change is for Congress to approve it and for President Rodrigo Duterte to sign it.

Based on pronouncements of Duterte and the legislators, the change in name will happen soon. But what about the sentiment of Cebuanos? Will their voice be heard before Congress takes final action?

Del Mar said the House committee has approved the change in airport name to give Lapu-Lapu “the recognition that the outstanding Filipino deserves, and in the same thrust, improve the choice of name.”

The proposal stemmed from President Duterte’s campaign promise when he visited the Liberty Shrine of Mactan in 2016 and vowed to give Datu Lapu-Lapu recognition not just in textbooks but in the whole country. Visayan hero Datu Lapu-Lapu is known as the Filipino who killed a foreign intruder, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 during the Battle of Mactan.

Duterte signed last June Republic Act (RA) 11040 that declared April 27 as Lapu-Lapu Day or Adlaw ni Lapu-Lapu to celebrate the hero’s victory in Mactan on April 27, 1521. Every April 27 will now be a special working public holiday throughout the country but a special non-working holiday for Lapu-Lapu City and the whole Cebu province.

That move was welcomed not only by residents of Lapu-Lapu City but by those throughout Cebu. Except it didn’t end there.

The proposal to rename the airport was made by all Cebu legislators. Did they try to get the people’s sentiment?

Adelino Sitoy, presidential adviser on legislative affairs and head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, said there was no public hearing on the bill. Sitoy opposed the move which he described as “selfish” and an attempt to ease out Cordova from the glory of the name “Mactan.” He said he was willing to appear before the Senate to oppose it and request President Duterte to veto it should it reach that point.

Sitoy said the bill was not introduced to Cebuanos in a public hearing.

Legislators will get the sentiment of the majority if it were to hold surveys or public hearings. House members represent their constituents. It is a requirement for them to determine what is the position of Cebuanos on this.