MANILA — A proposal by President Rodrigo Duterte's congressman son to rename the main airport of the capital is "ill-timed," Vice President Leni Robredo said Friday, as authorities worked to contain the increasing cases of coronavirus infections.
Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte and 2 colleagues, in a bill filed Thursday, said Ninoy Aquino International Airport should be "Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas" to be easily identifiable as the Philippines' main terminal.
"When I first read about it, iyong pinaka-tanong ko sa sarili ko: 'Ngayon pa talaga?' Ngayon pa talaga na dapat all hands on deck tayo na nagtutulong-tulong para masugpo iyong pandemya," Robredo told CNN Philippines.
(I asked myself, 'Now, for real?' Now when all hands should be on deck to help curb the pandemic.)
"Number one, it’s ill-timed. Number two, alam naman natin why it was named Ninoy Aquino International Airport. So iyong tanong, where is our sense of history?" she added.
(We know why it was named Ninoy Aquino International Airport. My question is, where is our sense of history?)
The airport was named after the late Sen. Beningo "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., who was killed at the tarmac. The airport's name was changed in 1987, a year after the People Power revolution that installed his widow Corazon Aquino as president and toppled the Marcos dictatorship.
Their son, former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, was the predecessor to the incumbent, Duterte. Aquino's Liberal Party is currently the political opposition and Robredo is currently its highest elected member.
The NAIA in 2018 was among the world’s “most improved” airports, according to survey released by London-based research firm Skytrax.
Earlier this month, NAIA made headlines after hundreds of passengers stranded by the coronavirus lockdown sought shelter under an expressway near the airport.
Some of them were evicted from their homes, lacked money even for food, or had to walk to the airport for days, said Robredo.
"It could have been prevented kung mayroong sistemang nilagay para hindi naman ganito iyong suffering ng ating mga kababayan," said the Vice President.
(It could have been prevented it there is a system in place so that the suffering of our compatriots will not be this grave.)
"Kung mayroon mang sistema, hindi siya communicated sa tao. Napakahalaga sa mga panahong ito na communicated sa tao kung ano iyong mga puwede nilang i-avail na services sa gobyerno," she added.
(If there is a system, it was not communicated to the public. It's very important in these times that the government services that people can avail are communicated to them.)
— With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News