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Tama na sorry mo! Poe wants Tugade, airport officials to explain why it took them nearly 2 days to remove plane from runway

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Sen. Grace Poe is seeking an explanation from airport authorities on the runway mishap which resulted in the paralysis of the country’s main gateway as the removal of a stalled Chinese passenger jet stretched for two days.

Poe, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said she was filing a resolution on Monday, August 20, to direct her panel to inquire into the operational procedures in responding to such emergency situations and why it took about 36 hours to remove a Chinese passenger aircraft from the main runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Ano ba o meron nga bang standard operating procedure sa mga ganitong aksidente? This is not the first time that a plane has skidded off the runway and it certainly won’t be the last. Bakit inabot ng dalawang araw bago magsimula ulit ang operasyon ng NAIA? Hindi ba kayang gawin ito nang mas mabilis para hindi gaanong naperwisyo ang libu-libong pasahero?” Poe asked.

Transport Sec. Arthur Tugade, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Eddie Monreal, airline executives as well as some affected passengers will be invited to the hearing, Poe said.

Hundreds of domestic and international flights were cancelled for two days while a number of flights had been diverted to Clark or Cebu after a Xiamen Airlines flight veered off while landing amid a heavy downpour on Thursday evening shortly before midnight.

“We will give time for airport authorities to have a complete report on the effects of the runway closure during and after the incident,” Poe added.

“Bilang mambabatas, marami tayong nais bigyan ng pansin bukod sa pagsasagawa ng mga pagdinig. Gayunpaman, hindi tayo puwedeng magbulag-bulagan sa pangyayaring ito dahil magiging pagtalikod ito sa ating tungkulin sa sambayanan bilang tagapamuno ng committee on public services,” the senator added.

The hearing will also tackle Senate Resolution No. 782 filed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on the status of Metro Manila airports and the government’s plans, if any, on modernizing them to meet growing demand.

Poe said she wanted to know how airport authorities and airline employees handled the situation after comments and stories circulating on social media indicated the chaotic condition even after the runway was opened such as seemingly endless lines and how passengers were made to wait without food or water. Flight information displays were also shut so airline staff had to walk around with pieces of paper with the flight details to call for boarding.

“Bakit hinayaang dumami ang tao sa NAIA hanggang napuno ito? Wala ba silang polisiya na abisuhan ang mga customer kapag may ganitong insidente? Kung may Free Mobile Disaster Warnings, hindi ba pwede magkaroon, on their own initiative, ng Free Cancelled Flight Alerts?”

“The public deserves an acceptable explanation. This is important, considering that NAIA remains the primary gateway for foreign tourists into the country. Note, also, that NAIA is operating at overcapacity. It was built to handle some 30 million passengers, but is currently accommodating around 42 million,” Poe pointed out.

Poe said she would also inquire on the status of the P350 billion plan of a private consortium composed of seven conglomerates to rehabilitate and upgrade NAIA submitted to the government last March.