A world-class airport
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - August 6, 2019 - 12:00am

I’d written about the bidding process in previous columns, but it seems that the process is done and we are finally at the starting line for what will be a truly world-class airport that we can be proud of in Bulacan. Though it has taken a long time to come to fruition, it’s finally going to happen and I foresee the positive impact that this added infrastructure is going to have for traveling Filipinos, balikbayans, and tourists as it helps decongest Manila airports and provides more runway options for the multitude of airplanes that come in and out of the country every day.

San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the only bidder for the project, is set to build the whooping P735 billion project that, once completed, will have four parallel runways and a passenger capacity of more than 100 million or roughly three times the current passenger capacity of Ninoy Aquino International Airport. For those who frequent the overcrowded airport, this is definitely going to be a game changer. According to the Department of Transportation, the project will also include a tollway that will connect the airport to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan – making it easier for travelers to reach their final destinations.

I had written in previous columns that I hoped SMC would be the one to bring this project to completion. SMC President Ramon Ang has been a pioneering leader in the country and has spearheaded several projects that other businessmen have been too afraid to pursue. According to him this will be the biggest investment of the company to date. They have already assured that this project will be done with no cost to the government or any subsidies or guarantees. Something they had already said during the bidding process. If they don’t end up having partners or investors, the conglomerate can do it on their own.

I’m very excited that this project can finally get underway. I know that this will play a big part in helping to broaden the scope of travel in the country and provide a long-term solution for the boom in air travel. It will also give NAIA – which is extremely congested – the break it needs. As a traveler who has been delayed at NAIA for several reasons (lack of runway, long lines to check-in, etc), I look forward to this new world-class gateway into the country.

The project is set to break ground in the last part of 2019 and hopefully the first portion will be completed and ready to open in the next four to six years.

* * *

My heart aches watching the news about the United States in the past week. We all know that gun violence is rampant in the “land of the free”, but I don’t think it’s ever been lumped together like this in such a short amount of time. From California, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois – these past few days are like a nightmare on loop for scared citizens who know that at any point and anywhere a lone gunman can show up and change things forever.

America has had this problem – like a cancer – growing for years and years. Someone once told me that if the government won’t change policy in the face of children dying senselessly to gun violence than they never will. And it seems that person was sadly prophetic because nothing happened after Sandy Hook in 2012 and nothing continues to happen today. “Thoughts and prayers” has become a punch line when Congress obviously and painfully does nothing – or will do nothing – to protect its constituents from this needless violence.

And the saddest part is that in many of these instances, and most definitely the latest ones, America has no one to blame but themselves. They claim that immigrants or terrorists pose the biggest threat to American citizens, but in several of these mass shooting incidents and at least two of the most recent ones, the gunman is a lone white man with a ideology eerily similar to that of the current United States President, Donald Trump.

In fact, the El Paso, Texas shooter is a proud white supremacist while the one in California may have posted white supremacist vitriol on social media (to be confirmed). I hate to say it, but the problem is coming from within America and not from imagined super threats like immigrants and terrorists. Unfortunately, until the government accepts that no real change is going to happen.

With two mass shootings in less than 24 hours we can only hope that the government takes notice. It seems like the U.S. is always “reeling” from these attacks, but is never bothered enough to actually make changes that truly affect legislation. I highly doubt that these new incidents will make any difference. Especially when the NRA’s money is still steeped in everything and making its rounds on Capitol Hill. 

As a friend once said – losing children didn’t make a difference. At this point, one has to wonder what will.


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