IT seems Manila International Airport Authority chief Jose Angel Honrado has struck again.
In the latest installment of an apparently never-ending string of embarrassments, Honrado’s MIAA has inflicted on the country’s main international gateway, the airport has threatened to eliminate “seasonal passes” for employees of the 30 or so member airlines of the Airline Operators Council (AOC), due to unpaid bills for leases, interest and penalties, with some charges dating all the way back to the 1970s.
The seasonal pass is a pass that allows the employee the necessary free access to the airport terminals and his or her work area for several months, thus sparing the employee from constantly having to undergo full security procedures every workday. Instead of the seasonal pass, however, MIAA has said it would require the employees to obtain a “day pass” each day. Because the passes can allow employees into highly secure areas of the airport, security procedures before being given a pass are strict and tediously time-consuming.
As the legal team representing the AOC complained in a letter sent to Honrado to protest the decision, “not all of the employees affected are simple clerical workers,” but rather workers with critical jobs needed to keep planes and passengers moving. Forcing them to go through a lengthy security procedure every day will, the AOC fears, lead to serious interruptions in operations, which will quickly reflect on customer service.
Honrado is said to have saved the young Noynoy’s life when he was ambushed during a coup attempt against his mother, former president Cory Aquino. Honrado has escaped accountability for the missteps of his poorly run operation, including the embarrassing “tanim-bala” or “bullet-planting” scam that made international headlines several months ago. It is because of the personal connection that Honrado stays in his position, long after any other person would have been sacked and maybe even arrested for doing such a horrible job.
It should go without saying, but Angel Honrado is apparently unaware of it, and so we will spell it out for him: Whether or not airlines have unmet financial obligations that need to be cleared up, bullying their employees – and by inference, every traveler who attempts to use NAIA – to force the airlines to pay their bills is irrational, unethical, and almost certainly completely ineffective.
Clearly, these embarrassing and costly scandals will continue to occur as long as Honrado remains in charge at NAIA. While we can take some comfort that, at the very least, we will most likely see him make his long-overdue exit by the middle of this year, we must wonder if we can tolerate him for even that relatively brief amount of time. It will take the next head of the MIAA a considerable amount of time and effort to undo the damage Honrado has wrought; if the man has any shred of self-respect and public service sensibilities, he would step aside now and give his unlucky replacement a bit of extra time to clean up the mess.