I’ve kept trying to figure out when it was that I stopped giving Mar Roxas the benefit of the doubt.
I think about it now in relation to the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club incident, where the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary purportedly lost his temper and threw some putanginas around. Roxas has since denied it of course, the cussing at least, and said it is one incident he was to reflect on for the Holy Week.
Of course it remains so believable that the DILG Secretary would throw his weight around in this way, and that’s mostly because we’ve seen him—and we’ve heard of how—he can lose his temper or be defensive (or a brat) about many things far larger than being told he has to pay for a friend to play golf with him.
Now I remember when it was that Roxas lost all credibility as far as I was concerned: throwback to the NAIA 1 rehabilitation project circa 2011.
A timeline to remember Mar by
In November 2011, news broke that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary had unceremoniously kicked out the team that had been working for eight months on the NAIA 1 rehabilitation project. That rehabilitation team started work in April 2011, headed by Kenneth Cobonpue, Budji Layug, and Royal Pineda.
Under the National Competitiveness Council (NCC). These three world renowned Pinoys were pro-bono consultants of the project—that is, they were not paid to do this work.
But work they did. The worst airport in the world needed all the help it could get, and quickly. Working with the Manila International Airport Authority, a NAIA Project Management Office was created to adopt the project. The final concept and design of the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team took into consideration the structural integrity of the existing NAIA 1, and the need for both form and function. Taking into consideration the need to keep the airport going even during rehabilitation, the plan was to do it section by section.
In June 2011, Roxas was appointed DOTC Secretary by the President.
In October 2011, the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team announced their new NAIA 1 Terminal Design. It was not only wonderful, it was transparent: how many projects that will use public funds and taxpayers’ money are actually available to us in this manner, showing us where our money would go, allowing us to expect a finished product that has been presented to us as end-users?
In November 2011, the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team was kicked out of the project by the DOTC, the work they put in—their volunteer work—considered as mere “inputs.” DOTC Secretary Roxas said: “They have all made their inputs and interior design suggestions for the aesthetic ‘look-and’feel’ of NAIA 1. The DOTC is grateful for their inputs but since their inputs are aesthetic, we will take them into consideration after the more basic and fundamental structural and electro-mechanical works are undertaken.”
This was to dismiss the work that the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team put in—eight months of volunteer work!—to be merely about aesthetics.
There was also no contract between the MIAA and the DOTC and the NCC and its volunteer team that had been working for free, we were told.
Never mind that the design plan of the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team had been presented to Cabinet Members, and had been approved by them, too.
The Leandro V. Locsin and Associates (LVLA) team was to take over the project. Roxas said: “They are in possession of the ‘as designed’ and ‘as built’ plans and blueprints of the airport. They know the exact location of the duct works, risers, pipes, water drainages, and other electro-mechanical configurations of the facility. In short, they know the ‘bituka’ of T1. We will work with them and avail of their intimate knowledge of the facility.”
We never saw those blueprints of course, neither did we have a sense of what exactly the DOTC’s new team of experts were planning to do with the airport.
The President approved the P1.1. billion budget for NAIA 1 rehabilitation that same month in 2011. The promise was for work to start in January 2012, with the DOTC at the helm.
In August 2012, Roxas was appointed the new Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary.
In August 2012, the NAIA 1 rehabilitation had yet to be felt by any of us who pass through it to travel out of and into the country.
In June 2013, news broke about the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team collaborating with LVLA to rehabilitate NAIA 1. The rehabilitation was finally underway, DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya announced. It is now pegged at P1.2 billion pesos. The Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team is still working pro bono, but it’s unclear what role they play exactly, no matter the government press releases.
In December 2013 DM Consunji Inc. (DMCI) was awarded the P1.3-billion NAIA 1 Rehabilitation Project. In January 2014, they started work on NAIA 1. This month, travelers have suffered the consequence of this rehabilitation project. Long lines and air conditioning units that have been turned off have been enough to make people faint. DOTC Secretary Abaya has apologized, “Our sacrifices now will lead to much better facilities and services in less than a year’s time. We are confident that the public will find these inconveniences to have been worth it once the project is completed.”
Yet it is unclear what the completed rehabilitated NAIA 1 Terminal will be like. Unlike the original Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team’s transparency in showing us their redesign, where we know exactly how they would solve the problem of congestion and traffic for example, we have no idea how we’re supposed to feel the effect of a new NAIA 1.
There’s also the fact that MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado had said that this rehabilitation will not solve airport congestion, because congestion will be solved with the transfer of international flights to NAIA Terminal 3. Yet the rehabilitation is supposed to boost tourism and improve services.
How exactly? We don’t know.
The Mar roadblock
One can only imagine how quickly and efficiently things would’ve gone with the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team had they been given the budget to implement their proposed design themselves. They had promised it would be done in a year on a P1 billion-peso budget. The NAIA Terminal 1 could have been done in January 2012.
But the Roxas roadblock was not only inexplicable, Roxas himself did not fulfill his promise to do something about NAIA 1 the whole time he was in DOTC. The promise was that Roxas’s DOTC would begin work on NAIA 1 in January 2012. The current DOTC Secretary promises rehabilitation work that was started in January 2014 will be done by December 2014, just in time for the APEC Summit in January 2015.
Apparently it was not enough that we, the people, had been suffering with this airport. Its repair only became urgent because an international summit of leaders might actually suffer the way we have all these years.
In November 2011 DOTC Secretary Roxas said: “The rehabilitation plan is part of our mission of providing the Filipino people safe, reliable and convenient transport means in line with Pnoy’s slogan of ‘Kayo ang Boss.’”
Anong petsa na ser. Nasa ibang posisyon ka na. Worst airport in the world pa rin ang NAIA 1.
Roxas kicking out the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda team that was willing to work on the airport in 2011, and which we all know would’ve been able to fulfill the promise of a better airport by 2012, was nothing but arrogant.
The only thing worse is that Roxas didn’t deliver even a smidgen of change to NAIA 1 in that year that he was in DOTC.
I realize now that Roxas’ Tacloban-fail was no surprise. Let’s do a timeline of that next.