“GOVERNMENT is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
This famous line, delivered halfway through former US President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1980, embodies all that has gone wrong with the administration of President BS Aquino.
Running a campaign on the “daang matuwid” slogan almost six years ago, many Filipinos believed PNoy would and could solve the country’s pressing social and economic problems. Instead, our country’s problems have gone from bad to worse due to the neglect and inaction of the PNoy government.
Ironically, it is government that is causing hardship for many Filipinos – from the horrendous traffic to the almost daily MRT breakdowns and other commuting snafus – in no small measure due to the incompetence of PNoy’s appointed officials (a.k.a. allies, friends and relatives) such as Ninoy Aquino international Airport (NAIA) General Manager (and PNoy uncle) Jose Angel Aquino Honrado.
Honrado gained public notoriety not too long ago for washing his hands of the “tanim bala” extortion scam and other problems at the airport, using the excuse that his job was merely “to ensure the smooth flow at the airport.”
Perhaps this is why arriving at the country’s premier airport continues to be a nightmarish experience for many of our kababayans. One of our colleagues related to us his ordeal at the airport after a short trip abroad during the recent Yuletide holidays.
Upon arriving at NAIA Terminal 3 near midnight and after a long walk from the airplane tube to the immigration area, they were surprised to see hundreds of passengers queuing and waiting for their turn to clear immigration. The lines were in total disarray.
He says there were very few immigration personnel manning the counters. Imagine, less than 10 officers servicing, say, passengers from 2 commercial planes carrying around 300 passengers. That would be 600 divided by 10 immigration officers. At the very least, 60 passengers would be lining up at each counter.
If we were to do a simple time-and-motion study, an average of 1 minute per person would mean one tired passenger having to have to stand and wait for at least 60 minutes just to clear immigration.
When an immigration officer arrived to open an additional counter, passengers from other counters rushed towards the newly-opened counter. It was just like watching contestants in a TV noontime show, our colleague said.
Our point is, what is the management of NAIA doing about this? Former Cory security aide-turned-NAIA General Manager Jose Angel Aquino Honrado has been in office for close to 6 years, yet he has not instituted changes to anticipate the rush of passengers during the holidays. Hasn’t he learned his lesson by now?
We are sure they know how many planes will arrive at a particular time. All they need to do is to compute the number of passengers arriving versus the number of airport personnel at the terminals. A simple mathematical calculation will show how many people can be accommodated by immigration and customs personnel at each airport terminal.
If their estimation reveals that the assigned personnel is not enough to service passengers promptly, why don’t they add more so that travelers can immediately be attended to?
Will Honrado again reason out that immigration is not his turf? Then why not ask the Bureau of Immigration to augment their personnel during peak arrival hours?
Our colleague says he felt bad when he heard some OFWs complain: “Is this the way they treat OFWs whom they call “bagong bayani”? We experience better service when we are abroad.”
After exiting the airport baggage claim area, he saw hundreds of people milling around in the dimly-lit arrival area. The driveway was jammed because vehicles were parked helter-skelter. It was absolute chaos.
He narrates that he had to wait for another two hours for a ride home because there we no airport taxis or rent-a-car available. Despite the obvious lack of public transport, NAIA management refused to allow regular taxis to enter the terminal, forcing many Filipino and foreign travelers to walk out of the Terminal 3 complex lugging their heavy suitcases in order to get a cab. What a welcome!
Although a news report last Saturday said NAIA has finally allowed regular taxis to pick up passengers at the airport during peak hours, it is too little, too late, especially when the holiday season has already passed. Even then, regular taxicabs still refuse to go inside NAIA because security personnel allegedly demand a “tong” before they are allowed to pick up passengers within the terminal. Apparently, these extortion scams continue to happen right under Honrado’s nose.
For as long as our airports are being run by someone like Honrado who always finds reasons and excuses and not solutions, passenger experience at the airport will always be one for the books. Undeniably, the NAIA tag as one of the world’s worst airports is attributable to the incompetence of an ex-Air Force general who can’t seem to do his job.