Sunday, December 15, 2013

“These problems are catching up with us”

Reading a column from another paper before this article, one would be inclined to give us Pinoys the benefit of the doubt; that our problems are imposed upon us by others? But this article says a mouthful: “PHL not likely to achieve 2016 tourism targets due to infrastructure woes,” Business Mirror, 5th Dec 2013. “AN airline executive on Thursday said because of the many postponed infrastructure projects of the government, the country’s target of attracting 10 million tourists by 2016 will not be achieved.”

“Seair International President and Chief Executive Officer Avelino Zapanta said the commercial aviation industry has been pushing for a dual-airport system, like using both Manila and Clark . . . After all, in recent weeks, how many flights have been diverted to Clark because of congestion in Manila. So that’s practically telling us there is a need for Clark to supplement and complement Manila. They are now thinking of other sites like Sangley, which will improve reclamation. But [based on] our track records, when we build an airport, it takes decades.” He pointed out that after three decades, the Naia Terminal 3 remains unfinished. If they reclaim in Manila Bay to make Sangley airport, it would probably take half a century to finish.”

“Data from the CAB showed that combined passenger traffic of the six domestic carriers hit 15.42 million, down by about half a percent, from January to September 2012. “That’s even worse than flat. Actually it is a negative growth . . . [B]ecause of the positive outlook in the past years, foreign investors came into the country such as Tiger Airways and Air Asia. However . . . all the local airlines could no longer expand because of the slotting problem at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).”

“His short- and medium-term solution to the current problem is to do what is necessary, such as the elimination of the general aviation from Naia, which the administration failed to do because of the lack of political will . . . It’s the interest of a few rich people against the interest of the entire country and the traveling public. Their tiny jets occupy the same time, which is the same time you could have used for a wide-body aircraft carrying hundreds of passengers, instead of a business jet carrying only two or three executives . . . Where’s the economic sense there? They give priority to executive jets rather than commercial jets.”

Why can’t we deal with the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution or the energy crisis or basic infrastructure, among others? This article says it all: Because of the lack of political will . . . It’s the interest of a few rich people against the interest of the entire country.

On the other hand, reads the Manila Bulletin, 7th Dec 2013, “Manufacturing revival aims to create 4-M new jobs by 2022.” Sounds promising; but didn’t we say tourism was a low-hanging fruit that must be exploited – to create millions of jobs? Why is there no clarity or coherence, much less a vision? Again, the article says it all: Because of the lack of political will . . . It’s the interest of a few rich people against the interest of the entire country. No wonder, "64.1 percent of the economists and businessmen in the country believe that the Philippines is not ready for the ASEAN economic integration.” [Manila Times, 25th Nov 2013, Tough times face Aquino in final half of his term - de Ocampo]

It stands to reason that we’re the laggards in the region; and again, no wonder, we now hear Philippines in the same sentence as Jamaica? Are our problems imposed on us by others? Or is it about time we grow up? Rizal saw it over a hundred years ago and we have yet to prove him wrong? The cards are indeed stacked against us, from our sheltered upbringing to our inward-looking, parochial bias to our non-participation in the 21st century, globalized and highly competitive world, etc. Practice makes perfect but we've been conditioned to operate within our own, confined, sheltered world; is it any wonder we are unwelcoming of extraneous elements? We'd expect our favorite physician to be not only well-trained but, as importantly, up-to-date in his or her field? Is it any wonder these problems are catching up with us?

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