Press Release
September 10, 2018


The leader of the Senate committee on public services stood pat on her initial assessment that airlines and airport officials were remiss of their duties and functions in ensuring the welfare of inconvenienced passengers following the runway mishap at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last month.

Concluding the investigation into the incident involving Xiamen Airlines that skidded off the runway amid a heavy downpour on August 16 which led to total chaos at the country's gateway, Sen. Grace Poe said: "May pagkukulang ang mga airlines at ang airport management dito. Malaki ang pagkukulang nila. Marami ang naperhuwisyo."

At the same time, Poe said the hearings "were not meant to disparage the efforts of our airport and airline staff."

"Dealing with irate, hungry, and tired passengers is not an easy task. Alam ko marami sa inyo did your best given the situation and we are learning from this. Even General Manager [Eddie Monreal], you were basically crucified when everybody was talking about this. We see the effort. Moving forward, I hope that we will prevent this from happening again. We don't really get a free pass but I think that we should be a little more considerate because this is the first time this has happened," Poe said.

"These lessons will be enshrined in our Committee report, for the reference of future generations," added Poe.

Speaking to reporters after the second public hearing, Poe said she will include in the draft report airport officials' admission that they failed to immediately convene a crisis committee with the representatives from airline firms "that is why coordination failed."

"Unang-una, sabi ko dapat ang crisis management team nila ay magtipon-tipon kaagad kasama ang mga airline representatives kapag may nangyaring ganito. Ang mga airlines, naipapangako natin na magbibigay ng tamang abiso sa mga pasahero kung hindi matutuloy ang mga flights at magbibigay ng pagkain at danyos. Importante na 'yan ay natalakay natin at sila mismo ay nagbigay ng kanilang commitment dito," said Poe.

"Number two, ang mga contractor na dapat nagtanggal ng eroplano na 'yon ay medyo matagal bago sila nagpunta doon. Number three, ang uncoordinated flights. Ilalagay natin lahat 'yan sa committee report," Poe added.

During the first hearing, MIAA General Manager Eddie Monreal admitted they failed to give water and food to stranded passengers, majority of whom had to stay inside the airport terminals only to wait for several hours and even days for their flight to depart.

Airlines, although saying they attended to the needs of passengers, were criticized by the affected passengers that they were not given food, water or hotel accommodation, while some were still demanding for refund or reimbursements several weeks after the incident happened.

Poe urged government officials to assist the passengers for their claims.


At the same time, Poe believes speedy construction of new airports and expansion of existing ones will address congestion as overcapacity hounds the country's gateway.

"Ilalagay natin sa committee report yung naging diskusyon natin sa airport modernization... Malaking bagay iyan dahil sa Bulacan airport pa lamang ay ilang milyong pasahero ang madadagdag na makagagaan sa ating mga pasahero. At yung rehabilitation, until 65 million passengers ang magiging capacity ng NAIA. Malaking bagay at siguro hindi na sila magsisiksikan sa mga terminal," Poe told reporters after the second hearing on Monday, Sept. 10.

Officials present at the hearing told senators they are pursuing a multi-airport policy within Metro Manila and nearby provinces, and have in fact accepted proposals to develop NAIA, Clark International Airport in Pampanga, Sangley Point in Cavite, a new airport in Bulacan, as well as the development of Subic airport.

NAIA, which only has a capacity of 31 million passengers, booked 42.5 million passengers last year.

As for Clark, senators were told that expansion of Clark airport, which is being groomed as an alternative to the already congested NAIA, will be completed in 2020 and will increase its capacity to 12 million while the upgrade of NAIA, which will be developed by a "super consortium" composed of seven conglomerates, is scheduled to be initially completed by 2021 and is anticipated to increase capacity to 65 million passengers.

Subic airport is being revived to get it back to international standards; Sangley airport, which is currently used by the Philippine military, is proposed by the Cavite provincial government and another private consortium as an international hub to handle some 70 million passengers; and a new airport in Bulakan, Bulacan by San Miguel Holdings (SMH) is expected to handle 100 million passengers and may be operational by 2024.

"The government should accelerate the approval and implementation of airport proposals to ensure that tourists and our kababayans do not suffer...On the call of this Honorable Committee for government to fast-track the implementation of the airport proposals, we completely agree," Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez told senators.

He, however, raised concerns as to the financial viability of SMH, a subsidiary of San Miguel Corp., in financing a massive P735 billion airport project. Dominguez said SMH had total equity of P60 billion. In constructing a new Bulacan airport, SMH may need to shell out P200 billion, something the Cabinet official doubts could be financed.

"Financially, at this point, [SMH is] incapable of undertaking a P700-billion project," Dominguez said, but added they want the parent company, San Miguel Corp. (SMC), to guarantee the Bulacan airport project as he believes SMC's capitalization is enough to finance the bid.

The committee noted the concerns raised by the Finance official as regards the financial capacity of the proponent firm of the Bulacan mega airport, as well as connectivity to Manila and capacity of existing roads to handle a mammoth project.

Poe said she wants assurance the "terminal fees will not skyrocket" once the different airport projects are completed.

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