Left slams plan to turn over airports to businesses

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ILOILO CITY, Philippines—Militant groups have scored a government plan to bundle and privatize the operation of small airports in the country.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Panay said the privatization of airport services, especially in the provinces, would result in higher fees and profits for foreign investors and giant companies.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said the government was considering the bundling of airports in Davao, Bacolod and Iloilo for privatization to attract large international investors.

Abaya was quoted in an INQUIRER report as saying that if the three airports are bid out, the winner would operate the three facilities.

The Iloilo airport, which opened on June 14, 2007, is considered one of the most modern airports in the country and is the fourth busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic next to Manila, Cebu and Davao.

But Reylan Vergara, spokesperson of Bayan-Panay, accused the government of reneging on its responsibility to provide quality and affordable basic services to the people.

“Airports and other transportation facilities should be government-owned and -controlled because of their strategic economic importance and as a basic service,” Vergara said.

He said employees of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines could also lose their jobs in the privatization plan.

Vergara said the government should increase spending for airports and personnel instead of turning over their operations to private firms.

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