Twenty-eight flights bound for Ninoy Aquino International Airport were diverted to Clark International Airport in Pampanga and 40 flights were canceled altogether on Monday when emergency repairs were made on runway 06-24.
There was a five-inch deep, one meter-wide and nine-meter long crack on the asphalt overlay.
The last repair was in 2011, said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade. “We needed to give it our attention. I don’t want to put at risk the safety of aircraft…and of the passengers.”
Airline passengers are no strangers to such inconveniences, but what proved different was the statement of Tugade who, despite having spent just 19 days in office, was quick to take responsibility for the problem and apologize to the public for the inconvenience created by the repair.
“Please accept my apologies for those things we did not expect to happen,” Tugade said, addressing a group of airline executives and businessmen the following day. “I am assuming responsibility because it happened during my watch.”
The mayhem at the airport caused some passengers to wait for as many as eight hours to be served food. Others were kept inside enclosed aircraft for an extended period.
That he acknowledged at all how much trouble all these caused passengers makes Tugade starkly different from his predecessor, Joseph Emilio Abaya and the latter’s boss, President Benigno Aquino III, who trivialized passengers’ issues and insinuated they were unduly complaining instead of bearing the brunt of their daily travels.
In the past six years, mobility in Metro Manila’s has deteriorated—and the troubles have not been confined to air travel. Traffic on Metro Manila’s major roads, for instance, has been debilitating, and the rail system has not only been inconvenient but dangerous to its hundreds of thousands of daily users.
Alas, Abaya and Aquino dismissed the complaints as not being fatal, and even said people should regard the traffic positively because it was a sign of economic growth.
But if the past woes were a sign of anything, it was of ineptitude and arrogance of the people who pretended to be servants of the public and patronizingly called Filipinos their bosses even when their actions betrayed them.
These were, too, the same people who did not believe they could do any wrong. Every trouble, big or small, was attributed to their own predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom they had portrayed as evil beyond compare.
Fortunately for Aquino, Abaya and their ilk, nobody among the present crop of leaders is blaming them for the woes we still currently face. It is a fortune undeserved.
Leaders take responsibility for things that happen under their watch and offer no excuses, only plans. All the rest are pretenders.