Marcos could ‘use’ NAIA mess to justify its privatization — party-list groups

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 3) — Party-list groups Bayan Muna and ACT Teachers on Monday said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could use the New Year’s Day glitch in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to justify the plan to privatize it.

"The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines' (CAAP) suspiciously vague statement of a ‘technical issue’ in the navigation system, without any backup system for cases like this, shows the government's utter lack of competence to ensure public transport,” Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares said in a statement.

“This breakdown can now be used by Pres. Marcos as a justification to pursue (former) Pres. (Rodrigo) Duterte's disastrous program of privatization," he added.

RELATED: Revive 2018 consortium proposal for NAIA privatization upgrade — Concepcion

The CAAP said domestic and international flights to and from NAIA on Jan. 1 were either delayed, canceled, or diverted to other regional airports due to a power outage and technical issue in air traffic control, affecting thousands of passengers.

Colmenares noted that the solution should be more government spending on efficient public transportation because privatizing assets give corrupt officials an opportunity to “amass wealth through bribes in the sale of underpriced government properties.”

"Pres. Marcos’ early pronouncement to sell NAIA to private corporations will ensure the loss of another major government asset and increasing transport costs beyond the means of the poor,” he added.

Colmenares also demanded accountability, saying the issue should be immediately addressed rather than “be used to justify another sale of a government asset and increase airline rates.”

For House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, the “timing is quite fishy” as the Department of Transportation announced that the Marcos administration is pursuing the privatization of the airport on Dec. 30, a few days before the New Year Day fiasco.

“Di natin masisisi ang mamamayan na mag-isip na ito ay sinadya para mapabilis ang pagbebenta nito kahit di kinukonsulta ang mamamayan at ipaliwanag ang ireresulta nitong pagtaas pa ng singil sa pasahe sa eroplano," she noted.

[Translation: We can’t blame the people for thinking that this was planned to speed up the sale without consulting the people and explaining the consequences such as higher airline fees.]

"Have they not learned their lesson that privatization only means higher fees for consumers?” she asked.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public services, said the Senate will conduct an inquiry into the NAIA mess after aviation authorities settle it.