Senators ask DOTr for inventory of all domestic airports

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Senators ask DOTr for inventory of all domestic airports
Passengers heading to their respective provinces for the Holy Week break flock to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on March 27, 2024.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — Senators have urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to conduct an inventory of all domestic airports nationwide following numerous complaints of technical problems, such as breakdown of air-conditioning units and defective escalators, for the past five months.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who presided over yesterday’s public hearing of the Senate committee on public services, asked airport authorities led by Manila International Airport Authority general manager Eric Ines about the status of repairs of some airport facilities.

“Senior citizens walking down the stairs, carrying their bags, unserviceable escalators, things like these are driving me crazy. It’s a pet peeve. And then I also found out that the air-conditioning units were busted and it was very hot. They are still waiting for the repair of the aircon. That is why we called for this hearing,” Zubiri said in his opening speech.

“We are public servants, we must have concern for the people. I am not saying you do not do anything. We want to know what you are doing about it. It seems that what you are doing is not working. It’s been how many months since the first time we saw these breakdowns (of facilities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3),” Zubiri pointed out.

Zubiri even showed pictures of the unserviceable escalators at the NAIA Terminal 3 that he captured using his mobile phone when he arrived from Bukidnon.

“When (President Marcos) visited the Czech Republic, it was already broken, I was going to the IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union) and it is still broken. Now, I am back home, it’s already how many months, these escalators are still not working,” he lamented.

Marcos visited the Czech Republic on March 14 while Zubiri and other senators attended the IPU in Switzerland on March 23-27.

Zubiri noted that the senators would like the best possible scenarios at all airports and seaports, reiterating the statement of Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco that 99 percent of tourists in the country have to travel by air.

“And from that 99 percent, they have to travel again to secondary airports. We hope all the concerns about our airports will be addressed,” Zubiri said.

Airports in other countries, like Thailand and Singapore, are efficiently run, according to the Senate president, who clarified that the Senate hearings were “not in aid of persecution, but to help improve public service.”

“These airports are key facilities in getting to and from areas, as well as for tourists coming to the country. I am exasperated beyond words by what is going on,” he said.

Zubiri asked fellow Sen. Mark Villar whether maintaining and repairing escalators is hard since the Villar family owns several malls in the country with a lot of escalators.

“Is it difficult to repair an escalator, Sen. Villar?” Zubiri asked.

“It is a matter of good maintenance. So you get a good service provider,” Villar replied.

“Airports are gateways to the country, and in terms of perceptions, it is very important that there is a good perception from initial arrivals of guests and overseas Filipino workers,” he added.

Like Zubiri and Villar, Sen. Nancy Binay sought from the DOTr an inventory of all domestic airports across the country.

Binay noted that several regional airports are facing technical problems, such as defective escalators and the breakdown of air-conditioning units.

She narrated that she experienced the problem when she went to Caticlan airport as she visited Boracay a few weeks ago.

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