Attempt to rename NAIA part of efforts to 'distort' history, says historian


Posted at Jul 06 2022 04:13 PM


MANILA — An attempt to distort history was how a historian on Wednesday described efforts to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport after the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Dr. Jose Victor Torres of the De La Salle University-Manila warned of "big changes" in the country's history as the late dictator's son and namesake assumed office last week.

"Not revising but distorting. Because... the content of the justification for revising or changing the name was wrong," he told ANC's "Dateline" Wednesday.

"It's probably one of the first steps... to revive the name of the Marcoses in our history," he added.

Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. on Tuesday filed a bill seeking to rename NAIA) to Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport. In 2020, Rep. Paolo Duterte also filed House Bill No. 7031, proposing to rename the airport to “Pambansang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas.” 

“It is more appropriate to rename it to the person who has contributed to the idea and execution of the said noble project. This project was done during the time of the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Sr,” Teves claimed in the bill he introduced.

“It is more appropriate to bear the name that has contributed… in our country to make the Philippines a center of international and domestic air travel, who has instituted and built or conceptualized the project,” he added.

Torres, the history professor, saw this as an effort to supposedly remove the "dark past" of martial law in the country.

Over 11,000 fell victim to state brutality during the 1972-1986 dictatorship, which include enforced disappearances, rape and mutilation.

Critics have described the dictator's legacy as one fraught with abuses and corruption, which left the country heavily indebted and impoverished.

Torres debunked claims that what was then known as Manila International Airport was Marcos' idea.

The airport's history began as early as 1948, he said.

"Marcos wasn't President at that time and the idea of course to build a world-class facility to welcome foreigners... to our country was always a priority of the government," he said.

The elder Marcos rose to the presidency in December 1965.

According to the Manila International Airport Authority, the airport's international runway and associated taxiway were built in 1953, while a control tower and terminal building for international passengers were completed in 1961.

In January 1972, the airport was gutted by fire.

"It was of course Ferdinand Marcos who placed the funding for the airport and the development but he wasn't the only one," Torres said.

"To correct what was written in the proposed bill, it wasn't the entire idea of Ferdinand Marcos," he added.

For Torres, renaming places should be done with proper research.

He said the Manila International Airport, for example, was renamed "because something happened in our history that totally changed Philippine society."

He was referring to the assassination of former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., who was killed on the tarmac at the Manila International Airport on Aug. 21, 1983.

"Naming the place after him was honoring and placing the memory of not only the person but the very principles... that he represented in one part of our history," Torres said.

Aquino was the face of the opposition during the Marcos dictatorship.

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