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Sharp Edges

Make Naia an international-flights-only airport

Taguig City, known for years for drug hotspots and crime-prone areas, has emerged as Metro Manila’s newest financial and lifestyle district. From only P2 billion in 2010, the city’s annual budget for 2019 is now a whopping P10.5 billion, a 425-percent hike in a span of only nine years.

Other areas like Vista Mall, Acacia Estates and Ayala’s Arca South, all major real estate developments, have joined Bonifacio Global City as Taguig’s economic growth drivers.

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Businessmen welcome the city’s very low tax rate. For manufacturers, it is 72 percent lower than Makati’s and 81 percent lower than Quezon City’s. Small-time retailers are taxed only 1.5 percent compared to 2 percent in Quezon City, 2.8 percent in Pasig and 3.5 percent in Pasay.

The priority in social services has drastically changed in Taguig City over the years. Local government projects are aimed at boosting growth and making its benefits felt by people down to the barangay level.

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Nine years ago, city officials appropriated only P5 million for scholarships while spending P500 million for garbage collection.

After Mayor Lani Cayetano was elected into office in 2010, the budget for hauling trash was substantially reduced and funding for the city’s scholarship program grew yearly until it reached P500 million in 2015.

Today, public school students and teachers, qualified local government employees and even professionals who are residents of the city receive scholarships ranging from P15,000 to P60,000 each.

The city government’s hefty investments in education have paid off. Taguig’s National Achievement Test ranking among Metro Manila cities improved from 13th in 2009 (before the Cayetanos took over) to seventh in 2012; third in 2013; and first in 2014 and 2015.

On healthcare, Cayetano expanded PhilHealth coverage by 400 percent, resulting in free hospitalization for poor patients and heavily discounted fees for residents in city-run hospitals, along with 24/7 medical service.

The city-managed Taguig Pateros District Hospital now has state-of-the-art medical equipment and facilities.

In 2017, there was less flooding in critical areas of the city after the Solid Waste Management Office cleared waterways.

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Now everybody’s looking at incoming Mayor Lino Cayetano who will continue the work started by his sister-in-law nine years ago.

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In 1970, renovations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) were implemented by former President Ferdinand Marcos with Philippine Airlines as flag carrier. Five presidents after, nothing substantial has happened while air traffic has increased tenfold with additional planes from newcomer Cebu Pacific and international airline companies.

An immediate solution, I believe, is to direct all local flights to Clark International Airport  and make Naia an international-flights-only airport. For travelers from Quezon City, the Camanava area and parts of Manila, Clark is more accessible. The reactivated Sangley Point can be made into a local airport catering to residents of Calabarzon and Mimaropa.

Naia can focus on international flights until such time the Bulacan airport is open. This way, the airport congestion problem is easily solved.

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Tune in to the “Banner Story” radio-TV show, Monday-Friday, 6-9 a.m., on dzIQ (990AM), ABS-CBN TV Plus Channel 30. E-mail [email protected] for comments.

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TAGS: Jake J. Maderazo, Lani Cayetano, NAIA, Sharp Edges, Taguig
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