PH airports: Delay of the land


Check out this latest item about our pathetic airport facilities: The trouble over a huge contract, worth hundreds of millions of pesos, at the premier airport, Naia.

To think, better airports—and, with a bit of luck, clean pleasant-smelling toilets in them—are supposed to be among the most critical pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of a tourism campaign of the Aquino (Part II) administration.

Based on media pronouncements of the Department of Tourism, now with its aggressive head Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., the administration wants to make a go at tourism as a main producer of jobs.

Official data show that the industry currently has less than four million jobs. By 2016 at the end of the term of our leader, Benigno Simeon (aka BS), the DOT is targeting jobs in the sector to hit about seven million.

Even DOT officials admitted that the target was rather an ambitious one, owing perhaps to the government’s perennial problem over funding.

In trying to put together the tourism jigsaw puzzle, the DOT decided at the onset to tap various sectors—the hotel industry, airlines and even other branches of the government, such as Congress.

The DOT needs Congress and the Department of Budget and Management, for instance, to fast-track the budget for the construction of new airports all over the country, such as the two airports in the Bicol region and in Samar, which are now under wraps.

Under the DOT program, airports fall under one major portion of the campaign, what DOT officially calls “market accessibility.” You know, no airport, no tourists!

Why are new airports—hopefully with better-smelling toilets—important in the DOT campaign? Well, for one, the program calls for the development of new tourism destinations in the country, what the DOT officially calls “product diversification.”

At present, more than 70 percent of the high-spending foreign tourists who come to the Philippines go to beach resorts. And the DOT figured this country had much more to offer foreign tourists than just its seashore.

Anyway, the international airport in Metro Manila, officially known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport, or Naia, as it was named after the father of our leader, BS, should come at the top of the DOT list for facility upgrade.

The volume of passengers handled by Naia has increased in the past 10 years, from about 12 million in 2002 to almost 30 million in 2012, which was already an increase of two and half times.

Like any other government agency, the airport authority in the metropolis—the Miaa or the Manila International Airport Authority—nurses a big headache over funding year in and year out.

To help remedy the disorder, the current Miaa management, headed by an upright man named Jose Angel Honrado as general manager, decided to make the most of Miaa’s income from the advertising spaces at Naia’s three airport terminals.

When Honrado became Miaa head in 2010, he reviewed the advertising contracts. Lo and behold, the previous management leased all those valuable promotional spaces to only one company.

And that is the Digichive Philippines, a company in advertising services based in San Juan, which is the political bailiwick of former President Joseph Estrada, the man named Band…Wrist Band.

To top it all, Honrado found out that, for about five years, the income of Naia from the advertising spaces at its three terminals only amounted to P13 million a year.

To think, advertising spaces are considered as a main source of revenues for airports all over the world, perhaps next only to rentals from commercial spaces, and passenger and airline fees.

So Honrado put the Naia advertising contract up for bidding. Reports said Digichive Philippines all of a sudden relented and offered Miaa higher rental fees reaching more than P100 million a year. That’s an increase of more than seven times!

Still, according to reports, Digichive Philippines lost in the bidding recently held by the Miaa under Honrado, who already commanded the respect of the airport users with his no-nonsense management style.

But after the Miaa board decided to award the contract to another company that offered a much higher figure than that of Digichive Philippines, this company went to court.

Of course, Digichive Philippines sued the Miaa in a court in—of all places—its home court in San Juan.  San Juan Regional Trial Court Judge Leonie Janolo Jr. issued the TRO that Digichive Philippines requested.

In effect, the San Juan court TRO stopped Miaa from awarding the contract to the highest bidder. The plan of Honrado for Naia to earn much more from its advertising spaces was thus put on hold—indefinitely.

In short, more delay!

The Miaa reportedly estimated that, because of the TRO, it would fail to increase its advertising revenues, foregoing monthly income of about P11 million, which surely could help finance facility upgrades at the terminals.

There—Miaa still cannot escape the leading cause of delay in airport projects in the land: the use of legal and judicial maneuvers.

Look, the newest terminal at the Manila airport, the Naia 3, is still entangled in legal knots, now already 20 years in the running.

The Naia 3 project took its origin back in 1992, during the time of Kuya Eddie, aka former President Fidel Ramos, who decided to assemble the country’s richest Chinese Filipinos, called taipans, to purse the project together.

For five long years, from 1992 to 1997, court cases stalled the project, as the company of the rich taipans, called Asia’s Emerging Dragon Corp., or AEDC, battled for control of the project against a little known entity called Piatco.

Finally the project started in 1997, with Piatco partnering with German firm Fraport. The construction took more than five long years, at a huge cost of more than $800 million.

The Naia 3 project got embroiled in more court cases between the BOT project, i.e. Piatco-Fraport, and the government under the administrations of the man named Band—Wrist Band—and Gloriaetta.

Up to today, the Aquino (Part II) administration has yet to complete the Naia 3 project. From what I heard, the crucial computer system at the Naia 3 has yet to be installed, so that most airlines hesitate to use the terminal.

Only three airlines are using it, namely, Cebu Pacific (owned by the group of taipan John Gokongwei), Airphil Express (a company of the national flag-carrier Philippine Airlines), and the only foreign firm All Nippon Airways.

There—NAIA 3 has been delayed, now some 20 years in the making, and still counting. Story of our lives, I guess!

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  • themask celestial

    Sir Angel Hondrado, paki check naman po kung sino ang nag-supply ng mga bagong trolley.  If I remember right, unang nirelease ang mga bagong troleys sometime oct-nov last year and when I used it last December, 3 beses ako nagpalit dahil sira yung mga nakuha ko. I thot it just a bad luck, but I overheard some passengers also complaining about gumegewang na gulong ng mga trolley.  I just wondering, its been a month since I noticed that and yet, I haven’t read, watch or hear about this defective trolley. Mukhang may kumita na naman dito, obviously.

  • OFW_Investor

    Welcome to the club, OFW’s receive the same treatment.

  • foreignerph

    Having passed more than 30 times by NAIA the past 6 years, the airport isn’t the problem, it’s when you get out of the airport that the real misery starts. Obscure vans bringing you to Malate for 60 “only”, then telling you on arrival it’s 60 dollars. Creepy people hanging around dirty street corners or mall entries calling themselves “fwends” and trying to sell you anything from ladies over real estate to fake Viagra. Out-of-school kids begging you and pulling at your pants. Drunk over-curious squatters with too loud KTV everywhere in the countryside. Arrogant drivers flying over pedestrian lanes ignoring the red lights, or parking their heaps of iron on sidewalks so you’ll have to walk on the streets full of manholes. Pickpockets everywhere. Trust me the airports are the best part of the Philippines.

    Now that KLM had to stop its direct flights by the extortion of the politicians against foreign long distance airlines, it’s just too much hassle to return another time, especially since Bangkok is only half the price of Manila without corrupt immigration officers charging 6,000php for a 2 months stay. My landlord will be happy since I won’t be back to claim the 17,000php warranty on my apartment. I didn’t count on it anyways since foreigners are just good enough for their money.

    Byebye Philippines, with your dirty beaches, dangerous drivers and terminally corrupt government. End March I’ll settle in Thailand that knows how to treat tourists with some respect and offers value for money.

    • benedick

       Agree with you foreignerph.  Its very sad that Philippines is like this, its in the culture of the people.  Yes, Thailand is much better place even though I was born in the Philippines.  I have been there many times and to many other places and countries and it really sad to know that Philippines is one of the frustrating place in the world when it comes to people way of trying to get as much as money from foreigners, many opportunist and bad people.  There are some part of Filipino culture which is really not good… and the reason why Philippines remains one of the poorest countries in the world and it will continue to remain as is until Filipino culture will improve… the younger generations and educated ones are improving but still big majority of the population is causing many problems so no one knows when Philippines will evolve to a much better society than today. 

      Anyway, if you still want to visit Philippines, let me know, I can be contacted at

  • tony

    have pinoys ever wondered how erap and his family members can afford to maintain their extravagant lifestyles (inspite on their numbers) and still manage to give “tulong kuno” to the supposed masa? I’ll tell you why – it is due to the massive amounts of public money they have pocketed in the past and continue to pocket to this day. O kayong mga bobong squatter, hanggang patuloy ninyong ipinagtatanggol ang mga dorobong pamilya ejercito, patuloy na maghihirap ang mga nuhay nyo!

  • iduniq

    I’m at a loss why the government with its immense power seems helpless against a private company.  If this company is in the wrong then it should be made to pay the lost revenues + interest,, even going after the owners and the judge who made the incorrect decision should be made to suffer.

    • Hein S

      Then you don’t know how Rotten the justice system in the PH is.

  • Tamarindwalk

    First thing to get the airports rolling is to get rid of all the political appointees running the airports and hire professional, foreign, airport managers.  

  • kismaytami

    Kulang sa info itong report. Magkano yung offer ng nanalong bidder? May contract ang MIAA sa Digichive di ba… ano ang terms of contract? Ilang taon ang kontrata? Ano ang dahilan ng Digichive sa pagdedemanda? At ano ang basehan ng judge sa pag-issue ng TRO?

    • JunPyo123

      Hindi naman po ito news report. Column po ito, opinion ng kolumnista kung baga. Kaya hindi required – at least for columns – na kumpleto ang datos para suportahan ang mga nilalaman.

  • Jun Tuazon

    The reason is greed,everybody wants their share so nothing is ever done at the right time at the right price,pinoys are good at it all plan.If pinoys wake up and change their mindset maybe,just maybe,but as it is only the trapos,established business will prosper & they protect that too with goons,guns & money.Why even Burma (Myanmar) is now attracting more FDA’s than Phils.Without the OFW the economy will be in tatters no matter what propaganda abnoy’s propagandists are blurting out.

    • Tamarindwalk

       Get rid of the political appointees and you’ll get rid of a hefty part of the greed.

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