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Over shout the runway

/ 12:19 AM February 23, 2015

The thriving racket in doctored land titles apparently reached the Naia, our premier international airport named after the martyred former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., father of our leader Benigno Simeon, aka BS.

As we all know, perhaps except the boys of our leader BS in the DOTC, or the fantastically incompetent Department of Transportation and Communications, a number of large companies already put up sizeable warehouses on hectares upon hectares of land beside the airport.

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From what I gathered, however, those very same areas originally belonged to the 67-year-old overcrowded crumbling airport.

In other words, they were government property all along!

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Look, those areas were recognized as government property intended for airport expansion for several decades, perhaps as early as the 1940s.

All of a sudden, several years ago, “land titles” appeared, purporting to cover the tens of hectares of what were originally government property.

From what I gathered, the huge companies actually bought their “titles” for property now occupied by their warehouses from a group headed by a famous lay minister—you know, a preacher.

It so happened that the existence of those warehouses beside the Naia runway seemed to be the biggest stumbling block to the expansion of Naia—meaning, the construction of at least one additional runway.

By the way, the bright boys of our leader BS recently came up with a definitive solution to the air traffic congestion at the Naia. Again—that was “air traffic” congestion.

The geniuses of the Aquino (Part II) administration unabashedly shouted at the top their voices that, aha, they found the ultimate solution in the construction of more passenger terminals—and not an additional runway, mind you.

Really now, how in the world could they expect those new terminals to solve the problem of commercial aircraft congestion up there in the air?

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I know—with a lot of prayers!

Anyway, the bright boys at the DOTC immediately shot down the proposal of a gigantic conglomerate to build the “third” runway at Naia without a single centavo of cost to the government.

Word started to go around business circles that the biggest reason behind the DOTC’s quick rejection of the proposal was, well, the boys of our leader BS actually wanted to protect those warehouses on the Naia property.

That, or they would not dare antagonize one rather influential preacher!

The administration already declared that it would put “on hold” the construction of the “third” runway.

It did not matter to the clever boys of our leader BS over at the DOTC that the “third” runway could actually raise the capacity of Naia to serve 60 aircraft an hour.

That would have been an additional capacity of 50 percent, at least compared to its present pathetic capacity of only 40 aircraft per hour.

According to experts, the “third” runway would do for the meantime, at least while the government—perhaps under a new administration starting in 2016—dilly-dallied in building a real modern international airport to replace Naia.

Based on studies done by the CAAP, or the relatively new government firm Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the government itself already knew that the air traffic congestion was the biggest problem at the Naia.

For instance, the CAAP found out that the airlines using Naia—both Filipino- and foreign-owned companies—actually stood to lose P7 billion a year in fuel and in engine maintenance costs due to the congestion in the air.

And to solve the problem, the bright boys of our leader BS simply wanted to build more terminals? Bright!

Not that the Naia does not need new terminals.

Actually, the Naia consistently topped the list of the world’s worst airports for three straight years under the Aquino (Part II) administration, based on the yearly survey done by the organization known as Guide to Sleeping in Airports.

To think, the yearly online survey merited publication in prestigious outfits like the Guardian based in the United Kingdom.

In the most recent survey, Naia nevertheless was dislodged in the top spot by the airports in Islamabad, Jeddah and Kathmandu—Naia became only the fourth worst airport in the world.

According to the survey, Naia somewhat was able to reduced the congestion at its terminals.

Still, the respondents complained about overcrowded facilities, lengthy queues, limited seating, unfriendly government officials (both immigration and customs) and smelly toilets.

It was estimated that roughly 32 million passengers a year used the Naia.

Based on forecasts on air traffic done by the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the Asia-Pacific region would post the highest increase in world air traffic over the next 20 or so years.

The Philippines, mind you, is seen to post one of the biggest increase.

And we just let those huge companies continue to occupy the land that was originally intended for the Naia expansion.

Superb.

* * *

On Feb. 26, Pilipinas Shell will hold the Manila leg of what is now known abroad as the “Powering Progress Together,” or PPT—a forum of high-powered business figures trying to figure out trends in energy.

The forum originated in Europe, and went to the United States (in Houston, Texas, in particular).

Pilipinas Shell brought it to Manila starting last year.

From what I gathered, the second Manila PPT will focus on the “rapid urbanization” of many parts in Asia. Think China, India and Asean.

Anyway, the forum next week also hopes to tackle issues such as climate change, population growth and allocation of resources.

But I have news for you—the organizer Pilipinas Shell also intends to release the results of a never-been-done-before survey on the so-called resilience of Metro Manila as a developing urban center, together with cases studies on cities in Indonesia and India.

Here are some facts contained in the forum teaser released by Pilipinas Shell to business organizations: “The World Bank estimates that we will need to grow almost twice as much food by 2050 as we do today.”

And another one: “If current water consumption trends continue, the world could face a 40-percent shortfall between global freshwater demand and supply by 2030.”

But more on those concerns after we hear from the experts attending the forum.

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