Press Release
August 4, 2010

Zubiri: No to government takeover

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri today warned against the proposed government takeover of the Philippine Airlines, saying this would set a bad precedent and drive away potential investors from coming into the country.

Zubiri said: "Government takeover of a private entity like PAL is a bad idea. It will be a bad precedent and will send a wrong message to the business community that if you failed to handle your business well, government may take over at any point in time. This will scare off potential investors to the country."

"It's like saying, if the continuous high prices of electricity in Metro Manila would become a deterrent for investments, does that mean government should now takeover Meralco and disregard it as a private entity that's protected by law? These are things that the Aquino government should take in consideration," he also said.

As it is, the senator said government is already hobbled by fiscal problems, such as the ballooning budget deficit and low revenue collections. "We cannot allow government's scarce resources to be infused into a private entity such as PAL. To channel these resources to a private entity is a bad idea. It's a disaster waiting to happen," he stressed.

He recalled how government messed up when it took over the management and operations of PAL about two decades ago.

"PAL has been run most efficiently in private hands. When it was under government supervision two decades ago, it was completely mismanaged and was overflowing with government appointees and personnel, which the company did not need," he pointed out.

Zubiri said that if PAL is under financial constraints to meet the demands of its pilots and crews, government could help out by helping the airline company find private sector enterprises or corporations to infuse the needed capital or equity investment "but we should not get involved, government should not get involved."

He cited buzz in the business industry that several big companies, such as those managed by tycoon Manny Pangilinan and San Miguel Corporation, are interested in pouring in funds for PAL.

"Government could help PAL find investors. That's the best it could do. But it should not even think of taking over PAL. Our government cannot afford it," Zubiri stressed.

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