The reported proposal to privatize the operation and maintenance of the four Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) passenger terminals was met with resistance, as hundreds of employees of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Paliparan ng Pilipinas (SMPP) embarked on a silent protest on Thursday morning.
SMPP President Fering Lopez said the recent move to privatize five government-operated airports across the country is a prelude to the privatization of the Naia terminals.
Lopez said the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had invited interested bidders to bid for the operation and maintenance of the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, Iloilo International Airport, Davao International Airport, New Bohol (Panglao) Airport and Laguindingan Airport.
“We are afraid that the Naia terminals will also be privatized in the coming months by the national government, after it has invited bidders to bid the operations and maintenance projects of the five airports,” Lopez said.
The DOTr earlier announced it is inviting bidders to improve services in key regional airports by giving their operations to concessionaires, including the enhancement of airside and landside facilities.
“We also heard that the next move of the government is to bid the Naia terminals, Lopez told the BusinessMirror.
He said the SMPP and Naia employees have not been consulted regarding the proposed privatization. “That is why we have mounted this silent protest. We are serving notice that we are aware of the moves being made by the government, which would soon deprived us of our source of livelihood,” Lopez added.
However, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said that, so far, he is yet to receive any instruction or guidance from the national government on plans to privatize Naia terminals.
“We will let the Naia employees know if any directives will reach my office regarding the privatization,” he added.
Lopez added that former airport General Manager Jose Angel Honrado rejected moves to privatize the Naia terminals during his tenure because “these terminals have remitted some P24.4 billion to the national government from 2010 to 2015.”
Lopez quoted Honrado as saying: “Bakit ko ipa-privatized ang Naia eh kumita naman ito. Nag-contribute ang airport ng P24.4 billion sa gobyerno from 2010 to 2015.”
Honrado allegedly blocked Malacañang’s move to privatize the premier airport terminals from going into private hands, which perhaps explains why Naia remains untouched during former President Benigno S. Aquino III’s term.
“Forget this privatization project,” Honrado reportedly told Mr. Aquino.
Lopez added they tried to communicate with the Office of the President in October 2016, “but until now we have not received any response from them.”
Lopez also said the SMPP has 641 members, 400 organic airport policemen, 140 organic rescue and firefighters and some 5,200 contracted manpower. But the policemen and firefighters, including the contracted manpower who are classified as nonorganic employees, are not allowed to join the SMPP, Lopez said.
He added that the silent protest was mounted by the terminal workers this early, fearful that they may soon lose their jobs as a consequence of the privatization. Records show that there are some 7,500 organic and nonorganic employees of the Naia.
Public management of the airports has been very poor. maybe private management will do better, with less waste of money, better facilities and better service for passengers. Time to have professional management and not buddy-buddy amateurish incompetent management.