Air traffic

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

We are supposed to be expecting a long haul of dry period as our country entered the summer season earlier. We had quite a drizzle though yesterday morning in Parañaque City. It was a welcome relief from the summer heat, especially for garden plants. While we were about to leave Panglao in Bohol around noontime last Monday, rain showers bade us goodbye after our brief family weekend vacation. Boholanos though, especially the children, were only too happy to welcome the rain showers as a good sign of weather during the hot summer days ahead. 

Initially, I thought it was cloud seeding that brought the unexpected rain in summer.

The cloud seeding operations are among the measures earlier announced by the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System (MWSS) to bring up the declining water level at the Angat Dam due to the El Niño phenomenon. This dam in Bulacan is the principal source of raw water for the two MWSS concessionaires, namely, the Manila Water Co. and the Maynilad Water Inc., that supply Metro Manila with potable water.

As per checking yesterday with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the drizzles were just manifestation of thunderstorms scattered around the country. Earlier, PAGASA raised the El Niño alert on the long dry period in our country.

Weather experts of PAGASA advised the public to expect hotter days coupled with lesser rainfall and dry winds and this will likely affect 47 provinces. PAGASA further identified 42 provinces will experience dry spell starting this month and 22 others will experience drought. The drought is expected to worsen by May this year as 33 provinces will be likely most affected.

According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), it has drafted its El Niño Mitigation and Adaptation Plan that aims to lessen the impact of the drought condition on the agriculture sector. This plan includes the conduct of cloud seeding operation for affected areas. The DA supposedly has P1 billion in quick response fund (QRF) for cloud seeding operations.

Hopefully, these funds are really being used to stave off drought in several provinces that have already been placed under a state of public calamity due to drought. But do you know that there is a government agency called the Bureau of Soils and Water Management that specifically get and disburse the P1 billion QRF? It is one of the attached agencies of the DA.

With so many government agencies handling water matters, no wonder President Rodrigo Duterte wanted them all under one body.

I got to know about this Bureau when we discussed the water crisis in Metro Manila at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay recently when the MWSS told us the cloud-seeding operations are being done by this Bureau in coordination with police and military establishments that deploy the planes for it.

And speaking of planes, lately there have been a lot of complaints about delayed flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other airports across the country for that matter. A number of them I’ve read in public posts in Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

Fortunately for us, we had only one hour of delay when we enplaned back to Manila last Monday. As explained in the public address system at the newly opened Panglao International Airport, traffic congestion at the NAIA caused the late turnaround of plane from Manila.

One of the rants included that from Malou Tiquia @maltiq who posted in her Twitter about being made to wait inside the plane for almost two hours last Monday at NAIA. Her scheduled flight to Cagayan de Oro was supposed to be 8:15 p.m. but was made to wait until 10:05 p.m. when their plane finally took off at the NAIA. From the pilot’s update to his passengers, their plane was queued as the 8th plane to take off from the runway. “Flight has been delayed and now there is traffic in runway?” she ranted at her Twitter.

Replying to @maltiq Twitter post, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian @stgatchalian posted: “All of the pilots will tell that runway congestion is the culprit. It’s bursting at the seams. @MIAGovPH should implement operational reforms to improve runway efficiency.”

As a personal measure to take in delayed flights, the Senator related he gives himself at least five hours lead time before any events that require him to take plane flights, to include two hours airplane delay. “It’s traffic congestion rather than the airlines’ fault. Grabe delays in our Manila airports. So much inefficiency! @MIAGovPH is getting worse!”

What the Senator might not have checked is the unusually high volume of air traffic at NAIA and other airports that is largely due to numerous private airplanes and jets, not to mention, helicopters leased by politicians for their political campaign sorties. And because it’s summer vacation time, there is an additional load of passengers from both local and foreign tourists.

So these flight delays, especially of late, are results not just of air traffic congestion. It is exacerbated by the private planes of these politicians.

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April 2019 is the Filipino Food Month as per the official calendar released recently at the official Twitter Account of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). “Follow the DFA’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages starting Thursday, 04 2019, as we whet your appetites with the #FilipinoFoodFinder. Hashtags: #GastroDiplomacy;

#FoodDiplomacy; #CulturalDiplomacy

To join this celebration, the LJC chain of restaurants, which includes the Cafe Adriatico in Remedios Circle in Malate – the home of our weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay – officially launches today their year-long observance of its 40th anniversary in the business of fine dining. Lorna Cruz- Ambas, president and CEO of the LJC Restaurant Group, kicks off the event at 9 a.m. before our featured guest Department of Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat talks about Summer Destinations under “More Fun in the Philippines” program of the government in this week’s Kapihan sa Manila Bay from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

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