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Opinion

Paying debts

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez wants the next administration to close and sell the land on which the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) stands to pay off the country’s huge debt. The debt to be inherited by the next administration is already more than P12 trillion. The NAIA land is huge, 646 hectares. Ramon Ang, the main investor in the massive new airport city being built in Bulacan, suggests closing NAIA in 10 years and selling it for P2 trillion to pay the debt.

Closing the NAIA and relocating the main airport to another location to decongest the metro has long been an issue. The plan was to use Clark. There was a Northrail high-speed train project to connect Metro Manila and Clark for the use of passengers, but the contract was canceled during the Noynoy Aquino administration due to anomalies seen in the project such as the ballooning of the cost to questionable awarding to Chinese companies. The contract was awarded during the Arroyo administration. No surprises there. According to Dominguez, Clark is too far away without a high-speed train much like the one in Hong Kong. So, the airport in Bulacan, which is only thirty-five kilometers from Metro Manila is the only option. I believe it should be operational in 2024.

On a side note, I hope that should NAIA close and the land sold, a statue or monument of Ninoy Aquino be placed in the vicinity, perhaps where he was shot and killed. What happened there should never be erased. There is a legislator who had the bright idea of introducing a bill that would remove the images of Ninoy and Cory from the P500 bill, saying they are divisive. Obviously, they just don't like the Aquinos. They do not want to give importance to his murder which became the fuse of the EDSA Revolution. Marcos Jr.’s camp was successful in historical revision and denial during his campaign. That's probably the trend now, erase history if you don't like it. Is the Palace website containing events during martial law back up and running? They gave the assurance it was just updating. I wonder what they are "updating"?

Benjamin Diokno, the incoming secretary of the Department of Finance and former BSP governor and DBM secretary under Duterte is not worried about the country's huge debt saying it can be serviced. He prefers to focus on proper tax collection rather than imposing new taxes. Well, he need not look far. The question is, will the new BIR head, whoever he or she is, pursue the hundreds of billions in unpaid taxes of a sitting president? And what happens to the Philippine Commission on Good Government which is still going after the Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth?

NAIA

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