MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night ordered Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to remove some restaurants at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to provide seats for stranded airline passengers amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
In a Malacanang briefing streamed late evening, Duterte blasted the design of NAIA for supposedly not having enough space for seats that can accommodate waiting passengers. He said he saw pictures of stranded travelers staying in waiting sheds and sidewalks near the airport.
The international airport, which has 3 terminals, was designed by various architects in the country and from abroad.
"'Yang airport na yan, kung sino nag-design niyan g***. Sabihin mo sa kaniya, 'Walang upuan.' Iilan lang ang upuan. Kapag ang flights nagpatong, 'yung iba nakatindig sa…What's really worse is that meron diyang restaurant sa labas na malaki," he said.
(That airport, whoever designed that is an ****. Tell him, 'There are no seats.' There are only few seats. If flights pile up, passengers are…What's really worse is that there's a big restaurant outside.)
"Paalisin mo 'yung restaurant, lagyan mo ng upuan kasi 'yung mga iba mga [pasahero] mga bata, buntis walang upuan," the President told Tugade.
(Remove that restaurant, fill it with seats because other passengers are kids and pregnant women with nothing to seat on.)
Duterte also ordered Tugade to terminate contracts with restaurant owners so waiting passengers can sit inside the airport.
NAIA Terminal 1 can serve as the major waiting area for passengers before they will be shuttled to their respective boarding areas, the President added.
The transportation department earlier drew flak as photos and videos of stranded passengers outside the NAIA Terminal 3 circulated spread online.
Some of the passengers bought tickets, but their flights were unceremoniously canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Others, on the other hand, fell prey to rumors that there are free domestic flights offered to those who want to go home to their provinces.
Stranded passengers have been urged to to leave the airport area as several flights to the provinces have yet to resume.