Privatization plan not an excuse for Naia execs to perform badly – Poe
MANILA, Philippines — The privatization plan for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) should not be used as an excuse to mishandle airport operations, said Senator Grace Poe.
Poe, head of the Senate public services committee, said this as she expressed dismay over another power outage that struck the Naia Terminal 3 past noon on Friday.
Transportation spokesman Jonathan Gesmundo said power was only restored at 1:29 p.m.
Poe said the latest power mess in Naia underscores the need for urgent power augmentation in the airport while a full electrical audit is underway.
“Regardless of duration, power outages in the country’s main gateway are enough to cause a domino effect of flight delays, passenger confusion, and reduced business,” Poe said in a statement.
Poe subtly linked the string of power outages hitting Naia to the plan to privatize the airport’s operations by the first quarter of 2024.
“Even if Naia’s privatization is being explored, this is no excuse for airport officials to drop the ball,” the senator said.
Poe also pressed the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) to implement proper maintenance and contingency measures to prevent any more power outages and travel disruptions.
“There should be comprehensive responses for all emergency scenarios. Any audit or improvement needs to be planned ahead of time,” she added.
In the meantime, Poe said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) should look into adding generators and providing waiting areas to passengers, especially the elderly and those with medical conditions.
“Since the weather has been hot lately, we should also include water and snacks in care kits given to the passengers,” she also noted.
Poe also took a snipe at the “informal updates” relayed by Miaa, which she said points to a “human error” while the energy audit by contractor Mserv is underway.
“The Miaa management must exercise technical oversight so these human errors are minimized,” she said.
By chance or on purpose?
She recalled the string of power flops that had plagued airports over the past few months.
The legislator cited power fiascos at the Naia during peak travel dates like the New Year, Labor Day, and now, the long weekend leading up to Independence Day.
“Was this by chance or done on purpose,” Poe wondered.
After the Labor Day power outage that also struck Naia Terminal 3, DOTr had said it was already coordinating with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and other authorities to look into the possibility of sabotage.
But Poe said, “This report remains to be seen.”
“It also remains unclear why the electrical plan of Naia Terminal 3, among other important building plan documents, has not been turned over by the contractor despite the government having already paid the just compensation,” she added.
The latest incident is the fourth power outage to grip Naia under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The first was when a blackout disrupted operations at Naia Terminal 3 in September 2022.