Poe, Binay grill Tugade for failure to visit Naia crash site
How can Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade say that he was on top of the situation when he did not even go to the crash site at the airport?
This was the question of puzzled senators on Wednesday during the hearing of the Senate committee on public services.
The committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe was looking into the August 16 incident involving a Xiamen Air plane that skidded off the runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airpot (Naia).
It was Senator Nancy Binay who first asked Tugade when he went to the airport.
“Hindi ho ako pumunta sa airport dahil ayokong makibulahaw. Kung pupunta ho ako dun baka mataranta lang mga tao (I did not go to the airport because I did not want to distract them. If I went there, our people might get rattled),” he said.
“But for the record, I was on top of the situation from the time I was called by Ed Monreal,” he added, referring to the general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
Poe pursued Binay’s line of questioning and asked the transport chief when he visited the airport after the incident.
“Hindi ko po vinisit (I did not visit [the airport] but I was on top of the situation. I was calling them,” Tugade answered.
“So you were never able to go to the airport . Hindi pa po kayo nagpupunta ng airport magmula noon (You did not go to the airport after the incident)?” Poe asked again.
At this point, Tugade corrected himself and said he went to the airport the day after the incident, but clarified that he did not go to the runway where the accident took place.
He explained that they met at the office because he did not want to add “distractions” anymore to the people working on the runway.
“Papaano po sila madi-distract na nandun ka? (How are they going to get distracted if you are there)?” Poe asked.
“E kasi ho baka mag bigay ako ng uto -utos na hindi naman tugma sa gustong mangyari nung crisis committee kaya ang kausap ko lang nun si Eddie(I might give orders that would contradict the crisis committee’s plan. That’s why I was only talking to Eddie that time),” Tugade answered.
Binay expressed disbelief at Tugade answers.
“Hindi ko ho makita yung scenario na hindi kayo bahagi nung crisis committee (I can’t believe that you’re not part of the crisis committee). You should have been on top of that committee,” she said.
“Maa’m I was on top of the situation…,” Tugade insisted.
“The mere fact ho secretary wala kayo dun sa (you were not at the) scene of the crime, you were never seen during the critical moments of the crisis so being on top means being there physically,” the senator went on.
Monreal then took up the cudgels for Tugade, whom he said had been giving them instructions during the crisis. But this did not stop Binay from asking more questions. This time, she trained her gun at the MIAA chief.
If the authorities were indeed on top of the situation, Binay wondered how come 61 unauthorized flights landed at the airport without their knowledge.
“Hindi ho talagang nalusutan, hindi ho nagpaalam sa amin (It slipped past us, they didn’t request permission),” Monreal said.
“Hindi ho ba pareho lang ho yun? Hindi nagpaalam at nalusutan (Isn’t it just the same – those flights slipped past authorities and they did not request permission)?” Binay countered.
Monreal said the concerned airlines would be given corresponding penalties.
“But more than the penalties po, it’s the fact na may naglanding dun na 61 flights e hindi niyo alam. Technically bahay niyo iyon, e tapos may pumasok sa bahay nyo na hindi nagpapaalam (But more than the penalties, it’s the fact that the 61 flights landed there without your knowledge. Technically, that is your house. Somebody entered your house without your knowledge?),” Binay said. /ee
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