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Friday, April 12, 2024

Push for a House inquiry into the ‘compounded issues’ at NAIA terminals gains momentum

By Zaldy De Layola

MANILA – OFW party-list Representative Marissa “Del Mar” Magsino lodged a House resolution on Monday, advocating for a congressional investigation into the “multifaceted” challenges impacting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals.

In her House Resolution (HR) 1615, Magsino urged the relevant committees of the House of Representatives to initiate an inquiry, aimed at legislative support, regarding the documented presence of pests and vermin in the NAIA terminals’ premises and facilities.

Magsino also wants to investigate the traffic congestion within the airport complex and adjacent areas, and the long queue of passengers in immigration checking counters.

“We recognize that the officials of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) immediately addressed the complaints on bed bugs, rats, and cockroaches in NAIA. However, given the repeated problems in NAIA and its tag as one of the world’s worst airports, we have to look into the compounded issues, more so, since NAIA has revenues to address basic operational concerns such as sanitation and congestion,” she said.

The call for the investigation came in the wake of viral videos and complaints highlighting cases of bed bug bites, and sightings of rats and cockroaches within NAIA terminals.

While these incidents initially highlight the inefficiency with the airport’s pest control and maintenance systems, they raise more significant concerns regarding public health safety.

Adding to the compounded problems at NAIA is its negative reputation globally, which in turn affects the nation’s honor and tarnishes the country’s image on the international stage, causing serious damage to the Philippine tourism industry.

“Bugbog na yun imahe ng ating bansa bilang tourism destination dahil sa paulit-ulit na isyu sa NAIA na siyang main gateway ng ating turismo, at isa ding mahalagang susi sa ating labor migration bilang pinto ng migration corridors sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at mga host countries (The country’s image as a tourism destination has been greatly damaged due to recurring issues at NAIA which is the main gateway of our tourism, and also an important key in our labor migration as door to the migration corridors between the Philippines and host countries),” Magsino said.

Based on records, the increasing passenger traffic at NAIA has led to congestion within the airport complex and surrounding roads.

The airport’s passenger volume also reportedly exceeds its design capacity by 40 percent, leading to runway congestion and delayed flights.

These result in travel inconvenience, fuel wastage, and risks of missed flight schedules, especially for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have to comply with strict deployment schedules and return-to-work orders.

For the Fiscal Year 2023, MIAA reportedly amassed a whooping PHP3 billion net income from terminal fees, concession privileges and aeronautical fees.

“Kaya’t tayo’y nagtataka kung bakit ang sanitation at traffic congestion sa palibot ng NAIA ay malaking isyu kung may pondo naman sa maayos na pagpapatakbo ng ating paliparan. Nais lamang natin malaman ang puno’t dulo nito upang magkaroon ng komprehensibong solusyon (So we are wondering why the sanitation and traffic congestion around the NAIA has become a big issue despite having enough fund for the proper management of our airports. We just wanted to know the reasons behind this for us to have a comprehensive solution),” Magsino said.

She added that the sought inquiry hearing would give the MIAA officials a chance to explain the steps they are taking and to discuss their plans of action to address the issues at hand.

“In the end, we all just want to push for NAIA’s competitiveness as an international gateway and safeguard the interests of passengers, especially our OFWs.” Magsino said.

While plans for the establishment of a new international airport and the privatization of NAIA are underway, she said immediate measures must be taken to address maintenance and housekeeping deficiencies, streamline immigration processing, and enhance traffic routing within the airport premises. (PNA)

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