Ejercito open to privatizing some parts of NAIA to improve services

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 5) — Sen. JV Ejercito on Thursday said he does not support the privatization of the whole Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), but is open to doing so for some parts of the airport to improve its services.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, Ejerecito said he may consider supporting the privatization of some parts of the airport as long as things that may have an effect on national security, like the country's air traffic management system, remain under the government's control.

"Kung yung (if it will only be) commercial areas lang just to improve, as you know NAIA has always been in the list of the worst airports in the world, so if it would improve the services, the comfort (of travelers) then probably I’ll be okay with that," he said.

The senator was asked about the matter following the technical problem that occurred at the NAIA on New Year’s Day that led to the cancelation of hundreds of flights which affected around 65,000 passengers.

Party-list groups Bayan Muna and ACT Teachers earlier expressed their concern that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. could use the incident to justify the government’s plan to privatize the airport

Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares said doing so “will ensure the loss of another major government asset and increasing transport costs beyond the means of the poor.”

For Ejercito, privatizing the whole NAIA could allow a single entity to control the operations of the airport.

“One of the things that we have given up before, yung NGCP (the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines), which was subject to privatization but for some reason a Chinese entity is already a major stockholder of this corporation,” he said.

“The NAIA fiasco recently, in one blink of an eye, one flick of a switch, it can paralyze the air traffic for one day. Yung (The) NGCP, it’s already in the hands of a Chinese entity, with one flick of a switch, mapa-paralyze ang whole country (the whole country will be paralyzed),” he added.

Some senators earlier also rejected calls to privatize the operations of the NAIA, citing national security concerns.