Opinion: NAIA Terminal 1 is Anti-Filipino

The gross mismanagement of NAIA is anti-Filipino, unpatriotic. No Filipino who loves his country will inflict such suffering on fellow Filipinos. Anyone who subjects the country and our people to international ridicule for having the worst or near worst airport worldwide has to be anti-Filipino.

Copyright Photo: Mund's Photography
I caught the replay of Karen Davila’s interview of DOTC Sec. Jun Abaya last week where he blamed the non-functioning air conditioners to government procurement policies. It takes nine months to get anything, he pointed out, compared to private companies where things can be purchased right away.

I was about to totally lose my respect for SecJun but he quickly caught himself and added that a government manager who is aware of the procurement lag time should plan ahead and request for things way in advance. He stopped short of blaming the NAIA GM for failing to do that, the reason why NAIA is now a hell hole.

Sayang. If only Karen was better informed, she could have pointed out that the air conditioning problem was not new. It existed even before the Aquino administration took office. GM Bodet Honrado knew the problem on Day One but did nothing.

In fact, all three NAIA terminals have been having that problem on and off. SecJun must remember I once texted him to tell him Terminal 3 was hot as an oven and that was exactly a year ago. Terminal 2 had similar problems but Ramon Ang made a quick decision to just let Philippine Airlines quickly repair and replace problem air conditioners (and back up power system too) even if there is no assurance the airline would be reimbursed by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). It didn’t take nine months.

GM Honrado had been managing or rather, he had been mismanaging NAIA for almost four years now. Any boss who still accepts his excuses for failure must by now take full responsibility for the underling’s mess.
I found it amusing that SecJun told Karen he has ordered NAIA management to do stop gap measures like buying whatever air conditioning packages they can get their hands on and do it quickly. Emergency purchases, in other words. Nothing warms the cockles of the corrupt bureaucrat’s heart than thoughts of overpriced goods justified by emergency needs.

I have been told that inducing an emergency situation had been a usual practice of many bureaucrats including or probably, specially those at NAIA. There were even suggestions that they may have deliberately caused facilities like air conditioners to malfunction so emergency purchases can be made.

If GM Honrado cannot manage NAIA, why does he insist on being there? I say it is unpatriotic to be inept in a way that compromises the quality of service delivery to the public. And it is unpatriotic of P-Noy to knowingly keep a friend who lacks the competence to hold public office.

I am embarrassed and angered by NAIA. I don’t know of any Filipino, perhaps even Honrado himself, who is not embarrassed by the state of affairs at NAIA.

I caught an interview of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima on TV Patrol and when he was asked about what delegates to the World Economic Forum would think about the Philippines after seeing and experiencing NAIA, I sensed Purisima was embarrassed too.

But since he is a cabinet member, Purisima tried to respond the best way he can. He quipped that in other countries they get excited with heat. I guess he was trying to be funny in a sarcastic kind of way. He should have said that Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez asked Honrado to give the delegates a warm welcome and Honrado is just being efficiently compliant.

Sec. Purisima cannot in all seriousness believe what he said that the WEF delegates will take the NAIA mess as an indication that things are moving on and progress is being made. As I said, it has been almost four years… if it is only now that such slow movement is happening, something is terribly wrong.

I doubt WEF delegates will look kindly at the NAIA mess. Adequate infrastructure is one of WEF’s indicators for competitiveness. The last time they measured 148 countries, we were 84th on transport infrastructure in general, 113th in airports and 116th in seaports. Totally pathetic!

Last year’s WEF conference in Asia was held in Myanmar. Phons Ang, one of my FB friends, just posted some pictures of the airport and it looked nothing like NAIA and best of all, it had air conditioning. Myanmar could have had the excuse that they are just starting to get things done now. Our infrastructure, on the other hand, have deteriorated over the last 30 years.

No wonder, when I posted pictures from a brochure of San Miguel Corporation on their proposed new airport for Metro Manila, the response was almost totally positive. But they want to know how long it will take for this dream to happen.

I share their excitement and expectation but I am afraid I am not that hopeful. I am sure it won’t happen if DOTC SecJun Abaya and his bureaucratic crew have anything to say about it. Sec Jun already said that they don’t favor this kind of initiative from the private sector.

But really, it makes no sense for government to block such an initiative because 1) we need such an airport, like yesterday; 2) DOTC cannot build anything like it in a dozen years and 3) government cannot manage any such facility if present experience in NAIA is any indication.

Besides, what is there to lose? San Miguel will risk its own capital and money borrowed from willing lenders here and abroad. The land that will be used is privately owned. All that the government must concern itself with is compliance with international aviation rules (CAAP), environmental impact and over all safety considerations for the building and the reclaimed land.

Ramon Ang told me that he had presented his plan to P-Noy and he is hopeful. But RSA is always hopeful. Unless P-Noy makes it clear he wants it done, I am sure the DOTC mafia will shoot it down.

But it is good news P-Noy liked RSA’s proposal to add another runway at NAIA that is doable within a year or so depending on how fast government acts. As I reported in this column some weeks ago, RSA showed me a drawing based on Google Map and pointed out where a second runway can be constructed within ICAO specifications.

The second runway will drastically reduce congestion and extend the useful life of NAIA by ten years or so. Most of the land already belongs to government. There is a smaller patch of land that may have to be expropriated or taken back from informal settlers. I see the squatter problem here as less of a real problem if P-Noy is determined to do something big before he leaves office.

But if P-Noy wants to really leave a legacy with impact beyond his term, he has to go with RSA’s new international airport. It will not be finished before 2016 but if they move fast enough, people can already see it taking shape.

For the World Economic Forum happening here this week, it is best to keep expectations low. Public Works Sec Babes Singson talked of showcasing our infrastructure projects, as if!

Singson got carried away: “We want to show that infrastructure projects really make a difference in economic development like in Singapore and Malaysia. They can see how much they can invest in infrastructure and they can really be assured that the Philippines has an understanding of what they are investing in.”

Sorry to burst your bubble, Sec Singson but the first thing they will see is NAIA 1. The credibility of whatever else you tell them afterwards will be measured against their actual warm experience at NAIA 1 and conclude this government’s infra talk is just a lot of hot air.

Lucky for us, San Miguel came out with their airport plans. I suggest that the colorful airport brochure be given to every delegate. That should help mitigate the horror of the NAIA 1 they personally experienced with the promise of a new modern airport proposed by and to be managed by the private sector.

The San Miguel airport is a big audacious project for us. And we need one such big audacious project to cheer us up and convince us all is not lost and we Pinoys have what it takes to do grand infrastructure like this.

I share the view of Roy Golez who quickly posted his full support for RSA’s proposal on Facebook. “While the economy is moving, it’s not dramatic enough. What we need is a BIG DREAM, a BIG, WORLD CLASS DREAM. We need to DREAM BIG again and this is a doable BIG DREAM. What are we waiting for?????”

Disclaimer: This article was authored by Boo Chanco, a columnist at the Philippine Star. Philippine Flight Network does not claim any ownership or rights to this article and it has been shared solely for personal interest. The views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and do not represent the opinions of Philippine Flight Network. To view the original article, please visit the Philippine Star.


  1. NAIA need only to be bulldozed to the ground and jail its corrupt officials who have long inflicted these sufferings to the Filipino people who deserved better treatment and airport facilities.

  2. The government officials do not really care about this. They breeze through security and probably their assistants will check them in while they are whisked away to the VIP lounge while waiting for their flight. No discomfort at all.

    Same thing with the MRT mess. These officials have chauffeur-driven cars so why would they bother using public transport. All they have to do is smile and do some little explanation when being interviewed.

    1. But when are we going to get angry enough with these leeches and stand up for our rights?????
      Our problem is that when they come by, we "po", "po", "po" them like they are demi-gods.
      We need to turn our backs on them and refuse them any courtesy so that they know their corruption, negligence and incompetence is no longer acceptable! They need a kick in the a$$!

  3. Blame naia officials,they just sit and do nothing.the employes are just zombies listening to their brainless managers,the result? worst airport in the world...giving filipinos a shame.

  4. Masyado na ako nadedepress sa mga comment na nakikita ko dito. Alam ko, panget ang NAIA. Maraming dapat ayusin. Maraming hindi gumagana, Pero may ginagawa naman sila. They're doing the best they can. It's alright to complain, but all I see are complaints. Very few, if any constructive suggestions. Instead of nothing but negative sentiments, why not try doing something to help improve the situation? Why not write to them what is happening so that they make take notice and give feedback on what still needs to be improved?

    1. Seriously, that's your brilliant suggestion - write a complaint letter??? Feedback is all over the internet! And "constructive criticisms" are all over too. Why are we complaining? Because they are not listening.

    2. At least show support. and at least they are doing some effort. Improvements take time and can't be finished overnight. Same for PAL.

    3. You know what, if you fly frequently you will know why we say this. We pay terminal fees, plus taxes from our income, assets, and stuff we buy and we get this. That's their best? Well, their best is actually making things the worst in the whole world! We don't mean to bring rain on their parade but NAIA is totally mismanaged. I still even wonder how we got Category 1 despite all the security lapses in the airport. Constructive criticisms have been given already but they haven't listened so they might listen to harsh truth. NAIA IS LIKE HELL'S AIRPORT. NAIA IS A TRASH BIN. NAIA IS SUCH A DIAGRACE.

  5. what happen to terminal fees? and yet we have this kind of airport...

    1. you're asking what happened to terminal fees? that's the excess of the tax. airport tax alone should be used to repair and remodel the airport. you should have asked first what happened to the airport tax. terminal fees do not even exist in other country's airport.

    2. We must begin to refuse to pay the tax!
      It's time to rebel against the injustice that is NAIA.

  6. i am sick and tired of this new airport thing. it's been like more than a decade since they started talking about this new airport. until now, nothing. arroyo didn't care about naia because her focus was for her own interest by building macapagal airport, which was name after his father. just for curiosity, if the new airport will be moved somewhere, what would be the name then? ang's airport? then it will not be approved. p-noy got to make a decision while he is on his term, otherwise he may loose naia name when the new president is elected and the new airport is started after his term. whahhh speaking of new president, i heard that imee marcos already built the statue of nora aunor, if she is going to run and got elected, that name may sound nice too for the new airport, good lord. i may start to think that they cannot make decision for the new airport because of the name? maybe true, but soooooooooo slow though.

  7. It may not be anti-Filipino, but the way it is managed sure does not testify to the capabilities of Filipinos. Rather it testifies to all the negatives that others heap on Filipinos.
    Perhaps it is time we Filipinos revolt against the disgusting conditions and management at Terminal 1. Refusing to pay the Terminal Fee is a good way to start. After all, the government is not rendering what we pay for: a decent, secure terminal.
    Time to get very angry and nasty.

  8. My heart bleeds for the Philippines. The Philippine government is a hopeless case.


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