POSTSCRIPT / September 2, 2014 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Poe, Pimentel probes: Contrasting attitudes

SOBRIETY VS BIAS: Two simultaneous Senate hearings yesterday showed the defining difference that partisan politics makes in legislative inquiries supposedly conducted in aid of legislation.

The contrast was evident in the sober exchange in the Senate subcommittee on public services chaired by Sen. Grace Poe and the partisan attitude of some members of the Blue Ribbon subcommittee headed by Sen. Koko Pimentel building a case against the Binays of Makati.

As Poe’s panel dialogued with DoTC/MRT officials led by Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, one could feel they were seeking solutions to the problems plaguing the light rail line on EDSA. Active in the discussion were senators Ralph Recto, Chiz Escudero, Nancy Binay and Bam Aquino.

On the other hand, as the Pimentel team inspected the 11-storey Makati City Hall parking building, remarks were dropped betraying bias. Sen. Antonio Trillanes, for instance, said that even without the ocular inspection, it was already clear to him that the structure was overpriced.

By this time, Senate President Franklin Drilon should have seen the need to restore the respect that the Blue Ribbon committee commanded before low-flying senators started using it as a political weapon and business lever.

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SUPPLEMENT: At the Clark Freeport in Pampanga, meanwhile, Rep. Roseller “Yeng” Guiao (1st Dist.) came Friday bearing assurances to local businessmen that their cabalen President Noynoy Aquino is bent on making Clark a major air transportation hub in the region.

This counters a widespread feeling that President Aquino is not that keen on developing Clark International Airport as a twin global gateway in tandem with now-congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila.

Guiao said the idea is not to supplant but to supplement NAIA – with Clark catering to air travelers to and from areas north of Metro Manila and NAIA monopolizing the wave of travelers from south of the national capital.

He said CIA and NAIA need not compete. Studies show that there is an actual and potential market of air travelers — including Overseas Filipino Workers from Central and Northern Luzon – big enough to make both airports viable as international gateways.

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PALACE PLANS: Painting a rosy picture for the development of the region around Clark, Guiao cited these moves taken by the Aquino administration:

• Earmarking of P1.2 billion in the proposed 2015 national budget to start the sustained upgrading of the Clark airport to expand its capacity to 1O-15 million passengers a year ferried by domestic and foreign commercial airlines.

• Directing the Department of Transportation and Communications to immediately study the feasibility of a high-speed railway linking Clark and Metro Manila, possibly on the proposed line of the moribund North Railways.

• Flashing the go signal for the Clark Green City project of the Bases Conversion Development Authority for developing into commercial and residential sites some 35,000 hectares of undeveloped land formerly known as the Clark sub-zone.

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CRITICISMS: The freshman lawmaker shared the good news at the weekly forum of the Capampangan in Media Inc. at the Holy Angel University in Angeles City. The balitaan is a joint project of CAMI and the Clark Development Corp., operator of the Clark Freeport.

Later in the day, Guiao amplified on Clark and regional development in a public hearing at the Freeport of the House committee on transportation chaired by Rep. Cesar Sarmiento of Catanduanes. Clark stakeholders present shared their views and concerns.

In detailing Malacañang’s plans, Guiao apparently wanted to blunt criticisms that the President is “blind to the practicality of simply upgrading the Clark airport to promptly position the country as a major air transport hub in this part of the world.”

The President has been accused of “giving in to pressure from Manila-based business interests” that led to the setting aside of plans to put Clark on equal footing with NAIA and solve the congestion suffocating the latter.

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ACTION AWAITED: To confirm Guiao’s assurances, however, President Aquino may have to speak up quickly and affirm his true intent by official action.

The Sarmiento committee is supporting a bill filed by Guiao converting the Clark International Airport Corp. into an authority to give it more latitude and flexibility. But the committee is still consolidating similar bills upgrading other major airports wanting to also become authorities.

After the spadework for Clark’s upgrading, Guiao is expected to push his other bill renaming CIA the Cory Aquino International Airport — a fitting partner to the Manila airport named after her husband Ninoy Aquino who was murdered on its tarmac upon returning from exile in August 1983.

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ANOTHER MEDIA MURDER: The Capampangan in Media Inc. condemned over the weekend the ambush of a DWIZ broadcaster in Dagupan City and urged the Aquino administration to act on media killings with dispatch and vigor.

“The recent shooting of DWIZ station manager Orly Navarro in Dagupan is a cowardly attack on press freedom and a threat to the profession of journalism,” the CAMI said in a statement.

Navarro, known for his hard-hitting commentaries, was shot in the back on his way home last Tuesday. The Dagupan police said they have arrested a suspect, but did not identify him.

DWIZ-Dagupan is a member of the Aliw Broadcasting Network, a nationwide network owned by businessman and former ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua.

More than 20 broadcast and print journalists have been murdered during the Aquino administration. Majority of the slayings remain unsolved.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 2, 2014)

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