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House probe on NAIA as world's worst airport sought

Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño has filed a resolution seeking an inquiry into the problems of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), most especially its supposed reputation of being the worst airport in the world. House Resolution No. 1836 seeks to direct the House committee on transportation to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the problems besetting NAIA. Casiño filed the resolution after NAIA Terminal 1 was voted as the world’s worst airport for 2011 by readers of "The Guide to Sleeping in Airports," a site that reviews the quality and facilities of the world’s airports. Aside from this, the blog of Englishman Geoffrey James Quartermain Bastin, who claimed he has worked “on-and-off" in the Philippines since 1991, complained that the NAIA was the same it was years ago with its over-crowded departure area and malfunctioning toilets. He likewise tagged Manila as a "dump" and the "disgrace of Southeast Asia." NAIA-1 terminal manager Dante Basanta, however, said it was unfair to call their airport the worst in the world because they are supposedly working hard to improve their services and facilities. In filing the resolution, Casiño said: "This is just the latest of repeated complaints and comments on the defects of NAIA and mismanagement of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). Despite recurring criticism, the government, for the last several administrations, had apparently failed to address said problems." Further, Casiño asked where the P8.5 billion in terminal fees being collected each year by NAIA go to given the sad state of its airports. "The public is wondering what happened to the billions of collected fees and whether these have been properly utilized," he said. He also cited the alleged extortion attempts of some airport employees on some passengers and the supposed questionable financial decisions of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA). "According to the 2009 report of the Commission on Audit, the MIAA was not able to provide for the complete inventory of equipment and properties valued at P4.6 billion. The MIAA, besides a few unreconciled inventory, is also reported to still have collectibles from airline companies and other entities amounting to billions of pesos, the same situation it is in years ago," he said. "Further, there are deficiencies with advertising concessions, having no public bidding for contracts, leading to disadvantageous deals. The said amounts could have been used to improve the facilities of NAIA," he added. Just recently, Transportation Sec. Mar Roxas said they are studying the possibility of selling NAIA and transferring the international airline operations to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga. "Before the DOTC decides to sell NAIA, it is imperative that Congress investigate the current state of the country’s airports and how it is being run. In the case of the NAIA, introduction of reforms in operations and appointment of competent managers may be what is needed," said Casino. — RSJ, GMA News