MANILA, Philippines - Incoming Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya on Thursday said he is eyeing the immediate rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 (NAIA 1).
In his first live TV interview since being appointed, Abaya said the NAIA 1 rehabilitation project is turning out to be more complicated than was initially assessed.
"It's much more complicated than the initial assessment. Instead of merely cosmetic changes, even for NAIA 1. That will take a while for implementation. Getting it off and rehabilitating it should be within the near future," Abaya said on ANC's Headstart.
He hoped to have a phased rehabilitation of NAIA 1 and NAIA 3, so there would be no compromise on capacity.
"What is more important is to have a design in place, a program of works, whether it goes beyond the President's term is irrelevant... Getting the implementation started should be accomplishment enough and ensure that every peso is put into the project properly," he said.
If NAIA 1 is closed down for renovations, Abaya said Clark airport may become a hub for international flights.
"The only concern there is how to get people to Clark... A fast way of getting there is an essential component to have a fully functioning airport in Clark," Abaya said.
Projects to be aboveboard
Abaya said he will ensure transparency for all major infrastructure projects to be bidded out and implemented by the DOTC.
"All these big infrastructure projects have been marred with irregularities and corruption. It makes decisions more difficult, makes fares higher for the people...That I can ensure, I can say it on national TV, it won't happen within the term of the president, I think that's what we want to be remembered for," he said.
The Cavite lawmaker said he will not prioritize one project over another at the DOTC, saying the roll-out of projects would depend on their complexity.
"No, there would be no priorities. I would not say LRT 2 should be prioritized over LRT 1. The budget itself will dictate the priority. I think the sequencing on how it will be pushed out of DOTC for implementation would be dictated by the complications of the projects. The more complicated ones would take a while before preparations, but the easier ones are easily pushed out," he said.
Asked about the shelved plan to build a station near SM North EDSA that would link the MRT-3, LRT-1 and planned MRT-7, Abaya said it is only "logical" to have a connection between the MRT 3 and LRT 1.
"It's logical to have a loop between MRT and LRT, continuous flow from the southern to northern end of Metro Manila... It would be logical to have it implemented," he said.
'Not a reward'
Abaya dismissed claims he was "rewarded" by President Aquino with the DOTC position for his role in the House prosecution team during the impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona.
"Definitely it is not a reward, it's not within the President's personality to reward people," he said.
To ensure a seamless transition at the DOTC, Abaya said he will retain the team of outgoing Secretary Mar Roxas.
"A concern of stakeholders is that this Jun Abaya might come in and change all the rules and start again from zero... That's one thing we want to dispel. We will have a seamless transition at the DOTC," he said.
Abaya, who is the chairman of the House appropriations committee, said he hopes to see the passage of the 2013 budget at the House of Representatives before starting work at the DOTC by mid-October.
Once he assumes his post at DOTC, the House of Representatives will assign a "caretaker" for Abaya's district in Cavite.