Spare no airport
And so it is true: The administration of motorcycle riding Duterte Harley wants to do an airport relocation, even just partial relocation.
Under the four-point program of the DOTC, which it claimed would solve the horrific snarl-up of air traffic at the Naia, the administration plans to shoo away general aviation to Sangley Point in Cavite.
That is 30 to 40 kilometers away from the metropolis, or about two-hour drive, if you are lucky.
The DOTC is also ordering flag carriers Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to transfer some of their flights to the airport in Clark.
That is about 90 to 100 km away from Metro Manila, and travel time can reach three to four hours.
In a way, the administration of Duterte Harley wants to spare no airport in Luzon for use in commercial aviation to decongest Naia.
All the talk about airport relocation has been done in a number of proposals in the past, including a Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) study in 2014.
At that time, Jica proposed the transfer of the Manila North Harbor that catered purely to domestic shipping to the Batangas port and the relocation of the Naia to Sangley Point.
These, according to the Jica study, could go a long way toward easing traffic in Metro Manila.
Jica noted that the direct cost of bad traffic in Metro Manila came up to about P2.4 billion a day.
The really bad news was that, about 15 years from today, that would go to as high as P6 billion a day.
The Jica study offered five major solutions, some aspirational answers, to the traffic problem in this country of antiquated infrastructure. And did we see anything come out of those proposals?
No wonder, the team of Duterte Harley now move heaven and earth for some “emergency powers” to solve the same traffic mess.
What will happen now to the Jica study?
It, for instance, noted that factories in the Calabarzon area were the primarily users of domestic shipping, and yet they had to go all the way to the port in Manila for their shipping needs.
Jica concluded that the transfer of domestic shipping to the Batangas port could also attract international vessels to Batangas and away from Manila.
The study noted that the relocation of North Harbor to Batangas would free up some 600 hectares in the port area.
Now, the MMDA, which by the way still has no chair, also identified traffic-prone areas in Metro Manila, which included routes serving the Manila port.
On the problem of air traffic in Naia, the Jica study had some unkind words on the proposal to make Clark as the country’s main airport: It would not be feasible.
Why was that? Well, it would entail tremendous costs to airline passengers which, by the way, did not seem to be among the considerations of the DOTC in its four-point plan to ease air traffic at the Naia.
Did anybody in the DOTC even bother to look at things from the point of view of the passengers?
In our report on Aug. 1, entitled “Bungle of energy,” we noted that the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) required coal plants to get “clearance” from Sen. Loren Legarda to obtain ECC, or environment compliance certificate.
In response, the senator sent us a letter that read: “I wish to clarify two things—first, I agree with you that the Senate has no business issuing any clearance because it is in the Legislative branch of government, separate from the Executive, and as such, it does not perform executive functions; second, I was likewise surprised to learn that the DENR released the memorandum without consultation with my office.
“I never asked for it and you can confirm this with former DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and Undersecretary Analiza Teh.
“I, in fact, called their attention to this internal memo which, in my view, is legally infirm.”
At the same time—what do you know—we received another letter, this time from the DENR undersecretary who issued the memo.
It read: “Please be informed that the memorandum was issued without the knowledge and consent of the office of Senator Legarda. It was issued in order to render due courtesy to her office as chair of the committee on environment and natural resources …
“Further, please be informed that the office of Sen. Legarda has called the attention of the DENR regarding the memorandum. We are aware that it is not within the mandate of the office of Sen. Legarda but we deemed it proper to inform her of such applications because of the significant environmental issue involved in the approval of ECCs for coal-fired power plants.”
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