FOR a country that has been branded with the “worst airport in the world” tag in 2011 and 2013, the last thing it needs is another reason to inconvenience its travelers.
Last year, a survey released by “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports” ranked the Philippines’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in fifth place. Complaints included the prevalence of the tanim bala (bullet planting) scheme that victimized NAIA passengers, frequent power outages, poor air-conditioning, lack of seats and complicated terminal transfers.
NAIA was not included in the world’s list of worst airports in 2014 and 2015 after major renovations were implemented at the country’s main international gateway.
“Some travelers noted improvements in the airport structure and facilities such as cleaner bathrooms, more chairs and some general organization of taxis in front of the terminal,” the travel website noted.
Travelers rate their airport experience on factors such as comfort (rest zones and gate seating), facilities and things to do, food options, immigration or security, customer service and cleanliness.
On Tuesday, April 4, cutout photos of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno were seen in place of immigration officers at the counters of NAIA. Many immigration windows were vacant as a result of the looming crisis as more Bureau of Immigration officers (IOs) assigned at NAIA terminals have already left their posts—while more are expected to quit—after a recent order was issued to stop the overtime pay of IOs at the airports.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II reported that 32 IOs had left since January. Fifty more IOs had informed the bureau that they would go on leave for six months in preparation for their resignations and to look for new jobs. At least 17 to 18 IOs are absent almost daily at the four NAIA terminals.
“Many of them have stopped going to work or have gone on leave because their overtime will not be paid anyway,” Aguirre said. “The economy will be affected by this. Hopefully, we could find a temporary remedy to this situation.”
Aguirre is referring for a compromise to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to bar the bureau from using the funds collected from airport express lanes for overtime pay. Express lane funds are generated charges are additional costs being paid by a foreigner who wants to fast track processing of permits and documents.
Duterte vetoed the use of express lane charges collected by the BI for payment of salaries of casual and contractual personnel, confidential agents and job order employees, augmentation of salaries and the health insurance premium of personnel who render services beyond office hours. Records showed that immigration personnel were paid P784 million in overtime pay last year, which was five times bigger than their basic salaries.
Under R.A. 10924, the said funds collected from use of express lanes will now go to the national treasury and will be allocated to other government agencies.
If this problem continues, expect to see longer lines of domestic and foreign travelers at the country’s international gateways. Until a solution becomes available, this will have significant effects on the economy and security, and will be a great concern for travelers who will now think twice before making the Philippines their next destination. (AJPress)