Lapid pushes to restore Diosdado Macapagal International Airport as name of Clark air hub

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 02 2020 07:35 PM

MANILA— Sen. Lito Lapid has filed a bill seeking to revert the name of the Clark International Airport to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, a title stripped from the transportation hub in 2012.

Under Lapid's Senate Bill No. 1861, the airport in Angeles City in Pampanga should be named after former President Diosdado Macapagal "to honor the achievements and legacy" of the first Kapampangan president.

"Among the highlights of his presidency are the suppression of graft and corruption, land-reform legislation, abolition of land tenancy, labor law reforms such as the minimum wage law, campaign against Income tax evasion, and the strengthening of free enterprise," Lapid, who also hails from Pampanga, said in the explanatory note of his 1-page bill.

The Clark Airport was first named after Macapagal in 2003 during the presidency of his daughter, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

But Macapagal's name was stripped from the airport during the administration of his daughter's successor - President Benigno Aquino III - whose father's name is used to mark the country's primary gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Talk of restoring Diosdado Macapagal's name in the Clark Airport surfaced again in 2018, after Macapagal-Arroyo was named as House Speaker.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said renaming the Clark International Airport is not a priority.

"Sa akin ho wala pa naman sa agenda ko 'yan. Mas marami pong dapat asikasuhin kaysa sa pangalan," Tugade told Lapid during the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) budget hearing in the Senate.

(To me, that is not yet on the agenda. There are a lot of other things that have to be prioritized over a name.)

"Kung pipilitin niyo po ako ngayon, baka ilagay ko pa pangalan ko diyan. Biro lang po," he said in jest.

(If you will force me to change it now, I might just put my name on it. Just kidding.)

The Clark International Airport - which was temporarily shut last year after sustaining damage from an earthquake - is nearly "96 percent" complete, Tugade said.

The airport's operator may begin operations either later this year or in the first quarter of 2021, he said.