President urged to conduct hands-on inspection of airport services and conditions.

Manila: Senator Ralph Recto called on President Rodrigo Duterte to take advantage of his planned flights between Davao City and Manila to check on conditions and service at the airports.

“If he becomes a suki (Tagalog term for regular customer) of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) then he can see for himself if services are being improved. He will also see first-hand the things which need to be done,” Recto said in a statement issued on Thursday

Duterte, who is from Davao City, said before that he plans to take commercial flights going back and forth between the Southern Philippines city and Manila, the seat of government.

He said he would not mind taking the one-hour-55 minute flight every time as he is not accustomed to road traffic and cramped conditions in Metro Manila.

Duterte, even during the time he was still mayor of Davao City, was known for his populist ways and had tried to shun any semblance of privilege that go with his position as top elected executive.

Last Friday, he was photographed seated aboard a flight in the economy section just like any common passenger.

Recto said such travel by Duterte could go a long way in helping improve conditions of airline passengers who use the airports.

“This will have at least 37 million unintended beneficiaries,” Recto said as he referred to the expected number of passengers who will use NAIA’s four terminals this year.

According to Recto if the President would be travelling just like any ordinary passenger, then he would be able to experience for himself if things in order at the airports.

He said Duterte would be able to “see if the X-ray baggage scanning machines are working, if the toilets are clean, if queues are short and moving properly, if the air-conditioning works, if baggage carousels are moving, and there are enough taxis for passengers.”

With him as regular NAIA user, “then perhaps congestion around and above NAIA will now be attended to,” Recto said.

The NAIA had been a source of ridicule for the Philippines due to its poor facilities.

Added to this, was the bad experience of a number of passengers—including foreigners—who were forced to endure the humiliation of being accused of smuggling bullets in their baggage.

The so-called “bullet planting” scam by unscrupulous airport personnel had become the subject of high-level inquiries including that ordered by former President Benigno Aquino III.

Recto was optimistic that with President Duterte himself regularly inspecting conditions at the airport, conditions will start improving.

“With the right mix of incentives and ‘occasional invectives’ from Digong (Duterte’s nickname), NAIA can transform from the world’s worst to best,” he added.

Before he assumed presidency, Duterte was notorious for using foul language to drive home his message to slackers.


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