THE big and excellent business news of the week has to do with the approval by the government of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp.’s P735.63-billion mega-airport project proposal in Bulacan, Bulacan. The National Economic Development Authority earlier gave original proponent status to San Miguel for pitching the massive infrastructure project, which means SMC’s plan can be subjected to a “Swiss challenge” by other investors, whose offer can then be matched by the Ramon Ang-led conglomerate.

For us long-suffering airport users, what the approval of the San Miguel airport project means is potential lasting relief from the insoluble problems of the single-runway Manila International Airport, which hasn’t substantially changed its capacity to accept passengers since its first international runway was built in 1954.

Of course, since then, four passenger terminals have been built around the single runway. But no new takeoff and landing infrastructure has been built in the facility, whose passenger-handling ability has long since gone beyond its absolute limit, servicing 39 million mostly tired, angry and frustrated passengers a year, according to latest statistics gathered in 2016.

Now, the SMC project consists of a system of four parallel runways, with provisions to build two more, to very comfortably handle the traveling needs of 100 passengers annually from the get-go. And San Miguel promises to complete the project in just six years.


According to the plans submitted by SMC to the Department of Transportation, the new airport complex would cover an area of 1,168 hectares in Bulacan town along the coast of Manila Bay. The airport, however, will form just part of a 2,500-hectare new city complex that will be built around it, called an “aerotropolis” by the developer.

As part of the proposal, SMC will build an 8.4-kilometer expressway that would link the airport to the North Luzon Expressway in Marilao, Bulacan. It was originally proposed under a build-operate-transfer scheme, with SMC to operate the airport under a 50-year concession.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers earlier raised questions about the economic viability of the SMC proposal. “We want to take a look at what the break-even point is, what level of passengers will be the break-even point to determine whether it’s viable,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said.


Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia also worried about the fiscal and financial implications of the project. “There were questions on the financial rate of return. What is its basis, does it include income only from the airport, or also the extra?” asked Pernia, who also heads the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

In the end, I think Duterte himself saw that the San Miguel proposal made financial sense and had the best chance of completion in the time allotted. And pretty soon, we will have a terminal that is not only efficient, but is also something to be proud of.

That would certainly be worth the price of a new airport, for the weary millions who go through Manila’s “gates of hell” every time they leave and return to the country.

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It was comedy gold, a friend told me. And indeed it was a whole-day feast of schadenfreude, righteous anger and good old hilarity directed at hated politicians.

Two congressmen and a mayor fell into the murky, stinky coastal waters of Zamboanga City and nobody felt bad. If anything, they were so happy that they made videos of the event go viral on social media.

This is the level of mistrust and cynicism among the citizenry today, when it comes to the people who hold public office. Only President Rodrigo Duterte, it seems, is impervious to these feelings of seething anger directed at those who rule us.

Of course, the latest Social Weather Station survey shows Duterte falling 10 points in the polling firm’s popularity ratings, something which still left the president with a “very good” net rating of 65 percent. (In SWS’ strange system, the lost 10 percent had to be deducted from the positive – still stratospheric, for a two-year president – 75 percent rating that he received.)

All politicians, in varying degrees, are subject to the fluctuations in public opinion. Duterte just happens to be that rare politician who seems unaffected by the general tendency of the public to eventually look down on and despise people who hold office, especially the overly officious and self-important types like those who visited the rickety housing project for residents of Zamboanga City displaced by Noynoy Aquino’s ill-conceived siege of many years back.

The challenge to the people who decide to make a career out of seeking elective public office then, is to make people love and respect them more. And that is no small task.

After all, you can’t really blame people for hating the politicians who have for so long offered them so much and delivered so little. Who have roused in them dreams of greatness and better lives by holding up martyrs and heroes, only to see these people revert oh-so-quickly into their real, thieving, incompetent and uncaring selves.

And yet, the people keep looking for people who will embody their ideals and represent their aspirations. They need politicians who will inspire them, whom they will not deride and laugh at as they wallow in the muck where they appear most at home. // All photographs, news, editorials, opinions, information, data, others have been taken from the Internet | [email protected] |.For comments, Email to :D’Equalizer | [email protected] | Contributor.