Press Release
October 20, 2011

NAIA-1 should be refurbished, preserved not sold

Sen. Ralph G. Recto yesterday warned that bringing in private investors to operate or acquire the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal I (NAIA-1) might not be the answer to cure the 30-year airport terminal of its worst features.

"If we sell to a private group, we could be letting go of a cultural structure that once defined the country as the home of Asia's first airline," Recto said, referring to the Philippine Airlines (PAL).

"And if we let a private investor take over NAIA-1, this would surely result to higher airport fees and may pose some security risks," he added, noting that no country lets a private sector or a foreign group run its major airport.

Recto, Senate ways and means chair and finance committee senior vice-chair, said opting to sell it just because NAIA-1 earned the tag as 'worst airport' is premature.

"Not all the woes of government could be remedied by running to the private sector," Recto said.

The senator said he agrees with the DOTC to first subject NAIA-1 to a major facelift to rid it some of its "ugliness" instead of pursuing an outright sale. Recto, however, said airport revenues estimated to run in billions yearly should be directly used to refurbish the airport terminal that was helped erected by a Filipino construction company and designed by a national artist.

He said airport services from bathrooms, food courts to lounges should be improved while ground crew undergo a mandatory crash course on GMRC (good manners and right conduct) with an elective on "anti-tongpats."

Recto said the DOTC could also work on the lifting of NAIA-1's blacklisting by US and Europe aviation agencies while pursuing the upgrading of NAIA-1.

"A great airport is defined by its efficient service and warm people," he said.

The senator said NAIA-1 is a beautifully designed structure that should be preserved and refurbished.

The late national artist Leandro V Locsin was commissioned to do the detailed architectural design of NAIA-1 while the detailed engineering was rendered by Renardet-Sauti/Transplan with Filipino firm F.F. Cruz as consultant.

Work on NAIA-1 started in 1978 and was completed in 1981 Locsin was an architect, artist, and interior designer, known for his use of concrete, floating volume, simplistic and functional design in his various projects. He was proclaimed a National Artist of the Philippines for Architecture in 1990 by President Corazon C. Aquino.

"Are we now desecrating the work of a national artist just because a blog of airport tambays have a different view of what is beautiful?" he said.

Recto nevertheless said the unsavory review of NAIA-1 should serve as a wake-up for the government and even the next government to take care of important structures.

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