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What an airport!

THERE’S no truth to the rumor that “tanim bala” is the reason that between PAL and Cebu Pacific, 500 flights have been canceled as part of the routine of putting our best foot forward to meet and greet the heads of state arriving between Nov. 15 and 20 for the APEC summit.

What’s true is that when it comes to receiving visitors with an extra dimension of warmth, our hospitality knows no bounds. Yes, let those security agents try to “plant” something in the carry-all or tote of Barack’s aides! But 500 flights canceled for the safety, security, convenience, and comfort of 21 presidents and prime ministers, not all of whom are staying for six days? What kind of airport logic/logistics is this? Are airport authorities using the summit as an excuse to explain away the congestion up in the air and down on the ground, or do they just want to prevent a “tanim bala” incident?

When it’s not the horrendous traffic on the roads leading to and away from the airport, it’s the “plant a bullet” trap that’s scaring people like me from even planning a trip. What more of the strangers who arrive wide-eyed and innocent, eagerly looking forward to the fun we’ve been promising them? Kings and presidents are protected by their aides, but no one else is safe from the predators who prey on just about anybody, a middle-aged OFW or a young tourist. It defies logic that a passenger would carry one bullet in his or her bag. What does a single bullet (without a gun) do? What is it worth? And why the sudden trend emerging at the Manila airport? One casualty of the dirty trick said she was cleared at Laoag airport, and could not understand how the bullet got into her possession at NAIA.

No matter how NAIA management tries to explain that those guards are not their employees – so what if they’re not? –

the fact is they are operating at and identified with Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and it’s NAIA’s reputation, or what’s left of it after this, that gets sullied, and sullied some more. And with it, the reputation of the Philippines as a “fun” destination. There goes your 10 million tourists by 2016, DOT Secretary Jimenez.