Aquino working on ‘long weekend’By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III will most likely be cooped up in his office even as Filipinos nationwide troop to the cemeteries to visit their dead on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Aquino and his sisters are expected to gather at the tombs of their parents, former President Corazon C. Aquino and the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., any time during the four-day “long weekend” but he said he’d rather keep the date of their visit a secret.
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on November 1 and November 2, respectively, are non-working holidays, but not for the 52-year-old bachelor President.
Aquino took time off from work in Malacañang Wednesday to conduct surprise inspections at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and a bus terminal in Pasay City to make sure security measures and convenience of passengers traveling to and from Metro Manila are in place ahead of the long weekend.
“Ever since I got into this job, I have not had a holiday,” he told reporters in a crowded bus terminal in Pasay City, letting out a laugh. “Unlike Congress and Senate who really had recess …”
Aquino then ticked off the few days of the year that he considers “holidays.” He said even Maundy Thursday is a day of work for him and his staff.
“Just to give you an example, during Christmas holidays, what I normally get is just December 31 and at least half of January 1. The Executive Secretary and I spend the second half listing down the things that have to be done starting Jan. 2,” he said.
The President said that during Holy Week, he’s usually busy inspecting bus terminals, airports and sea ports, and gets to enjoy a holiday during Good Friday.
During Wednesday’s inspection at the Philtranco bus terminal along Edsa, the President climbed into a bus bound for Davao, gave a pep talk as he stood by the driver’s seat before inching to the back of the bus to chat with the passengers.
Prior to that, Aquino visited the NAIA Terminal 3 at around 1:20 p.m. accompanied by Transportation Secretary Joseph E.A. Abaya and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino. They were met by airport officials led by general manager Jose Angel Honrado.
For 40 minutes, the President toured the departure area, which was crawling with passengers catching their flights for Visayas and Mindanao.
He stayed around to see how X-ray machines worked, witness passengers check in through a computer monitor, and check the conditions of the terminal.
Earlier in the day, he had one event: a meeting with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
“The preparations were orderly,” Aquino said after touring Naia 3 and the bus terminal.
He acknowledged that if there were problems with the air-conditioning system and CCTVs at the NAIA terminal, it’s because its construction has yet to be completed.
“You know I’m the fourth President to tackle the Naia 3 problem. Hopefully, we’d wrap up negotiations with foreign companies this November so that this building would be completed,” he said of the terminal that had been beset by legal issues.