• Mar and the world’s worst airport


    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.

    Beyond Roxas?

    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.


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    1. manuel g galecio on

      Hindi kasi tama na gumagawa ka dahil may iba kang intensyon na nagmamagaling ka dahil gusto mo ipakita na karapatdapat ka maging pangulo ng bansa. kaya proyekto mo walang patutunguhan o katapusan.

    2. mauricio palao on

      Binay looks better and better by the day. Right about now, Mar Roxas should show something..or at least hide what the people don’t want to see.

    3. Sabi nga ng mga classmates nya noong araw…yan si Mar, puro yabang lang yan. Magyabang ka kung may nagawa ka na. Mar will never be a good leader, taga mo yan sa bato!

    4. I cannot comment on the NAIA I as I don’t have enough information and I don’t immediately believe information found in newspapers or online until and unless they are verified by facts. I would recommend getting a comment from Sec. Roxas himself. But if what you are attributing to him is true regarding the currently very poor conditions of the airport then that is surely a result of someone’s mismanagement. On the other hand, let’s find out first what really happened before blaming the NAIA I completely on Mar. Let the objective truth be the judge.

      But I reference your ‘prejudgement’ on him by your statement “I realize now that Roxas’ Tacloban-fail was no surprise.” You stated your intention to construct a timeline next. Wouldn’t that report be more credible if there wasn’t any apparent prejudgement? You have already ascribed it a ‘failure’ to him without presenting the facts yet. Because if you’ll research it,you’l discover that the govt managed to deliver a C130 to Tacloban containing 6 tons of assorted relief goods as well as various manpower, the very next day after the storm hit. This is contained in a report found online issued by the AFP chief. This plane landed in Tacloban the very next day AFTER Yolanda levelled the place and it was distributed as best as possible, given the physical difficulty. On the 4th day after Yolanda’s landfall, the meeting took place between Roxas and Romualdez in which the mayor asked the govt to ‘take over’ Tacloban, an action that requires a city council resolution as there was no quorum since some councilors were either displaced by the category 5 storm or some of them had abandoned Tacloban for Manila, a fact. Although police and military personnel with Roxas had already been providing security, the mayor wanted a curfew imposed. Because of that national code requiring a resolution, Mar asked for a simple letter from the mayor documenting the request for the natl govt to provide such security and curfew. When the mayor inexplicably contested the issuance of such a letter, that’s when mar spelled out his cautionary request as he or the president could be questioned given their long history of political & family enmity. That later came out in a 18-second spliced video which portrayed Mar as holding relief goods and services hostage in exchange for that letter. And yet such services and goods continued to be distributed no matter the extreme difficulty in transporting it to the visayas owing to the clogged roads, backlogged airports and damaged telecoms. Another provable fact you will discover, which Mar was aware of going into that meeting was that the mayor himself had arrived less 2 days before the storm’s landfall. Preparations were done via celphone with atty. Tecson Lim, Tacloban city administrator. Witnesses placed the mayor and his family at his newly built house beside their resort along the coastline an it is there where they encountered Yolanda. It’s a miracle his family survived but Tacloban suffered the highest body count in stark comparison to some areas where there were much less as their officials undertook evacuations in earnest, to the point of physically taking residents with them against their will. But they survived. Among the reports I found to contain verifiable facts is the one by Raissa Robles. I forgot the other one but hers contains links to reports and documents which serve to verify her statements. A few days after Yolanda struck, Romualdez accused Mar of asking him to resign which was refuted by his own city adminstrator who was also at the meeting. The video of Mar only came out weeks later when the mayor testified, complete with tears, at the congressional hearing where the video was presented. It would appear that the video was a tactic to deflect responsibility for the high casualties in Tacloban away from the mayor and shifted onto a scapegoat – mar roxas. A brilliant “2 birds with one stone” maneuver because if it could hurt Mar’s chances for 2016, well and good. Romualdez was at the time a member of Binay’s party and his father in law who made the video is an acknowledged pioneer in digital engineering. There are no coincidences or accidents in politics. You can argue Mar’s flaws and imperfections. He even acknowledged his most recent one at Wack Wack. He apologized for his actions. He stepped down when his party asked him to give way to Noynoy Aquino. He hasn’t stolen hundreds of millions of taxpayers money. He hasn’t committed anything that is immoral or criminal. He is guilty of the same sins you and I are humanly capable of. In fact, he’s been under constant attack by his enemies and it looks as if it’s working. Mar’s popularity is very low, as a result. The mayor got what he wanted. He got away with it, scot free. Nobody’s looking officially into the Tacloban mess anymore because Romualdez succeeded in muddling the issue and escalating emotions to the point where people backed off, demanding that the blame game stop. But after all is said and done, some of the things Mar Roxas has done for this country are truly visionary, such as the establishment and strengthening of the BPO industry and development of generic medicines. The efects of these two achievements alone will continue to positively impact other industries as well as the wellbeing of Filipinos for years to come.

    5. frankly im surprised coz all this while i have high expectations and Mar is not the type as potrayed by d media(like d wack wack incident).He seems to be very responsible.diligent in his approach.Maybe,i was wrong “to judge d book by its cover”.

    6. Didn’t the extortion attempt on Inekon, MRT train suppliers, happen during his watch? And look how lousy MRT’s service is. Kung baga sa gardener, para siyang “brown thumb”!

    7. If you look up the word “FAILURE” in the dictionary you’ll see Mar Roxas’ smug blank stare looking at you.

    8. I am with you a hundred percent Ms Santiago. This guy is not only inutil, he is arrogant, mayabang. Can you imagine if he becomes President? Corina and him will run riot, kaawang Pinas. Mga opportunista yan at mata pobre.

    9. All this would probably have been avoided had Pnoy not replaced Sec. Ping de Jesus whose professional qualifications were what the position of DOTC Secretary required.

      Unfortunately, Pnoy favored his kabarilan Asst. Sec. Torres…

      Until and unless meritocracy becomes the basis of appointments to sensitive gov’t positions is adopted instead of political considerations, we will forever be mired in similar situations in the future.

      We can remedy the situation by reforming our electoral system where popularity/notoriety of a candidate is preferred by the uneducated voting population than a candidate’s educational and professional qualifications.

      The Presidency is an executive position; managerial experience and education are a must to effectively run the gov’t.

      Yet most of those who aspire to preside/manage the affairs of gov’t come from the legislative branch whose experience is crafting laws and have no experience in managing even a sari-sari store.

      It is time to “upgrade” the qualifications required to become a candidate for the Presidency if we want a better managed govt.

      Media can contribute a lot to this effort by creating awareness among the voters especially the politician-favored “masa” vote.

      Between today and May 2016 is sufficient time for media to start a “voter education” campaign.

      Rene Moral

    10. When Mar Roxas was still a private citizen, it was told that he was the most feared personality in their flagship corporate empire, the Araneta complex in Cubao. His alleged explosive temper was legendary among the employees, managers & senior executives of the business establishment. Even the Aranetas were said to be always on their toes whenever Mar was around. In contrast, his late brother, Cong. Dingoy was said to be loved & respected most of the Roxas-Araneta clan because of his invariably affable character. I could only wonder what if Cong. Dingoy is alive today. He is said to be the real politician imbued w/ the gravitas & acumen of his late father & grandfather.

    11. Give Roxas ample of time to learn from his shortcomings. I am confident enough, by the time the masses elect him President, he would have perfected a desired intellectual move in every endeavor for the country.

      • Abbey Canturias on

        Our country does not need an intellectual leader; what it requires is a president who wears the heart to serve, who thinks less, and who sees and feels more about the sufferings of the nation. Where the mind fares low, the heart compensates high. Roxas sadly does not fill the bill.

    12. With due respect to the man, I am sure people been watching him and see his ability and capability to lead the country. Leadership in the man is definitely wanting, unless he has a hidden talent that he has yet to show to the public. I am sorry to say, that he can’t win a presidential election just because, his name is ROXAS. He should emulate his predecessor, if ever he wants to become the President of the Republic.