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What better way to pay tribute to an adopted daughter of Pampanga than to name an airport after her?
Pampanga Rep. Joseller “Yeng” Guiao on Monday defended his proposal to rename Clark International Airport after the late President Corazon Aquino, saying President Benigno Aquino III’s mother contributed significantly to the development of the province and the airport during her term.
“It’s just appropriate because the former President Aquino is an adopted daughter of Pampanga and has also done a lot for Clark Airport, especially after the US forces left the area and Mount Pinatubo erupted,” he told GMA News Online in a phone interview.
In July 2013, Guiao filed House Bill No. 321, which also seeks to rename Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) the Corazon C. Aquino International Authority (CCAIA).
A technical working group was created to study the bill after preliminary deliberations on Feb. 19 by the House committees on government enterprises and privatization, and transportation.
Guiao said that although Mrs. Aquino did not come from Pampanga, a portion of Clark Airport also passes through the province of Tarlac, where the Cojuangco clan hails from.
Pampanga was dubbed "Cory Country” during Mrs. Aquino's presidency because of infrastructure projects that spurred development in the province.
Among the landmark projects during that time were the construction of the Ninoy-Aquino By-Way, Paskuhan Village and what is now known as the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center and Sports Complex, the site of the 1990 Palarong Pambansa.
Guiao's father, the late Pampanga governor Bren Guiao, was also one of the closest and most trusted leaders of Mrs. Aquino, who rose to the presidency following the Edsa "People Power" Revolution in 1986.
Clark International Airport was previously renamed the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) during the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The airport began using its old name in 2012.
Macapagal, known as the "poor boy from Lubao", is from Pampanga. His daughter, former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is a registered voter in the 2nd District.
No historical attachment to the airport
In the bill's explanatory note, Guiao stressed the need to develop a more stable and streamlined authority to manage Clark International Airport since plans to develop it into a world-class international airport has been hampered by the “inadequate powers and functions” exercised by CIAC.
The lawmaker said the creation of CCAIA will “ensure the development of [Clark International Airport] as the Philippines’ next premier international airport.”
Guiao, who also happens to be Mrs. Aquino’s godson, said renaming Clark International Airport after the late President Aquino is also in line with the initiative to nationalize roads, airports and other institutions in the country.
Guiao said it is more fitting to rename the airport after a known Filipino democracy icon than an American military official who has “no historical attachment” to the airport.
Clark Airport was named after Harold Clark, a major in the United States Army Service. He is known as the first American airman to fly in Hawaii.
“In all fairness to Mr. Clark, he never set foot on Clark or in Pampanga, and therefore has no historical attachment to the place itself. Baka yung relevance niya lumipas na,” Guiao said.
Clark International Airport used to be a former US military base until it was converted for civilian use during Mrs. Aquino’s term by virtue of Republic Act No. 7227, or the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992.
Despite criticism from some sectors against naming another airport after another Aquino, Guiao said “my proposal can stand on its own and can withstand any scrutiny."
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the country’s premier international airport, was named after President Aquino’s late father, Benigno Aquino Jr., who was assassinated on the tarmac of the Manila International Airport in 1983. — JDS, GMA News