‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it:’ Some senators hit bid to rename NAIA amid pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — Some senators on Friday criticized the “ill-timed” and “divisive” proposal to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in the middle of a pandemic.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We are facing a pandemic and we are thinking of renaming an airport? I believe we can do better than that,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in a statement.
Earlier, Presidential son Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte and two other lawmakers filed a measure seeking to rename NAIA to “Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas.”
“NAIA is the international gateway of the Philippines, being the biggest and largest international airport in the country. As such, there is a need to identify the same belonging to the Philippines. Hence, the proposed renaming to ‘Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas’,” the bill’s explanatory note read.
Duterte, in an earlier statement, also said the name “bears no color, no political agenda.”
But Drilon said any effort to rename NAIA “would always be seen as political.”
The senator further argued that many airports across the world are named after “heroes and individuals whose lives shaped the history of their countries.”
He cited as examples the JFK Airport in New York, Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, Indira Gandhi Airport in India, Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, and Canada’s Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport.
“There is more to it than just a name. It gives a glimpse of who we are as people. We are known as a democracy-loving people because that is what Ninoy Aquino represents,” Drilon went on.
“Every visitor who arrives at our airport will see us like Ninoy Aquino who showed great respect for democracy and freedom. We should not forget that and belittle his contributions to the country by taking away the honor of being the face of our major airport,” he added.
Drilon also said the measure seeking to rename NAIA is a “divisive” proposal, which the country “needs the least” as it continues to reel from the pandemic.
“We are in a crisis and we owe it to every Filipino to avoid a situation that will create division rather than invite unity and cooperation,” the senator said.
“The renaming of NAIA will not serve any purpose at this point,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said branding the proposal as “ill-timed and insensitive” would be an “understatement.”
“We have at least 33,000 so far confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. We are far from flattening the curve. Our health workers lack the protection and support that they need,” she said in a text message to INQUIRER.net when asked on the matter.
“More Filipinos are losing their jobs and income. Filipinos are sick, hungry, and suffering, for goodness’ sake,” she added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan also questioned the timing of the measure.
“That should be the least of our concerns now that we are facing the [COVID-19] pandemic and millions have lost their jobs and are starving,” he said in a message to reporters.
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