I don’t know which is more unpleasant and depressing to contemplate:
1. The discovery of another scam and shameful fiasco—the tanim-bala (bullet-planting) scam—at the worst international airport in the world, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA); or
2. The staging of another grandstanding Senate inquiry (into the scam), where our senators will take turns posturing before the TV cameras to aid their election bids in 2016.
Forced to make a choice, I must frankly confess that I would rather live with the crude reality of another Filipino criminal invention, however crude and shabby, than endure the prospect of the Senate wasting public money on investigating the bullet-planting scam, and suffering the sight of our senators asking inane questions on live TV and posing as crime investigators. The crime being perpetrated against passengers at the NAIA is reprehensible, but it is in the order of things, comparatively petty and smalltime.
Deceiving the public into thinking that a Senate probe is a service to the public interest is rank hypocrisy, because many of the senators are guilty of looting the public treasury for pork barrel and DAP bribes. They will cynically show moral indignation before the cameras, and secretly congratulate themselves for being clever.
If these senators are candidates in the 2016 elections (for reelection or for higher office), they will be getting free advertising for their candidacies.
Stopping airport corruption and mismanagement
The burning issue that must be addressed is how to put an immediate stop to the corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency at our premier international airport, by overhauling its operations, systems and processes, and revamping its personnel from top to bottom.
Responsibility for this latest fiasco begins with the man sitting at the top of the airport operations: Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Angel Jose Honrado. While the controversy has raged, he has kept silent and refused to take responsibility for the situation.
While President Aquino has publicly pledged to get to the bottom of the mess, Honrado appears to be banking on his closeness to the Aquino family in order to withstand any criticism and keep his job.
He is counting on Aquino’s pathological incapability to fire bad eggs in his administration, now matter how much they foul up.
Honrado served as the aide-de-camp of former president Cory Aquino and is rumored to be a favorite of BS Aquino and his sisters. He is a close ally and associate of his uncle, former congressman Jose Peping Cojuangco, Jr.
Even these biographical creds and PNoy’s fabled loyalty to friends, family and classmates may prove ineffective this time.
NAIA’s state of disrepair and inefficiencies have become not only a source of national embarrassment; they pose a danger to the nation’s peace and security, because of the continuing threat of international terrorism, and could be a black mark on the country’s standing in the world.
With the country’s hosting of the APEC meeting of leaders this November 17-20, dysfunction at the NAIA has plainly become unacceptable and even criminal. Anything less than an efficient and respectful handling of official guests passing through the airport will cost us dearly.
Sack Honrado now
There is merit to the proposal of Abakada Partylist Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, that Honrado and all other officials involved in the operations and security of NAIA and other international airports around the country must all submit their courtesy resignation to ensure a successful APEC Summit.
“Even as we are rushing with our last minute preparations for APEC, we must enjoin all the heads of agencies in charge of operations and security at the international airport to submit their courtesy resignation,” he said. “We need to put in an entirely new crew in charge of inspection and security and file charges against those involved in this laglag-bala scam.”
Dela Cruz said that the laglag-bala racket at the NAIA is a syndicated “one money, one fund” operation involving personnel from the Office of Transportation Security (OTS), MIAA and the PNP-Aviation Security Office. Honrado is definitely aware of the activities of the syndicate.
Focus on Mamasapano debates
With respect to the eagerness of senators to conduct a probe of the bullet-planting scam, I say their enthusiasm is misplaced. Instead of posing as investigators, they should focus the Senate’s energies now on outstanding commitments and responsibilities.
High on my list of these is the proposed plenary debates on the Mamasapano report submitted by the committees of Senators Grace Poe-Llamanzares and Francis Escudero.
Upon his return to the Senate, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile rightfully called for plenary debates of the report, which was surreptitiously buried by the Senate leadership.
Grace Poe escaped responsibility for not submitting a report to the Senate plenary, and for not securing the necessary signatures of her peers on the report.
In the proposed debates, Poe and Escudero must stand up in the chamber to defend their conduct of the Senate hearings on Mamasapano, their failure to call President BS Aquino to testify, and their failure to bring closure to the inquiry.
Instead of devoting all their time now to campaigning for higher office in the 2016 elections, they should honor their duty to the chamber and to the nation.
Many among us who have researched and studied the Mamasapano tragedy at length, are firmly convinced that had the Senate probers done a better job, we would not be in a quandary today in answering the appeal for justice of the families of the SAF 44, who fell in the incident. We would have answers instead of unresolved questions about what really happened in Mamasapano on that fateful 25th day of January this year.
The bullets that were planted in the bodies of the fallen commandos have greater significance to the future of our people and our country, than the bullets planted in the luggage of airport passengers.