Photos from Ariel Raule/THEPHILBIZNEWS
After giving his more than 10 minutes evocative colloquy during the Public Hearing of Senate Committee on Public Services Committee Public Hearing Committee headed by Senator Grace Poe on August 29, DOTr Arturo Tugade ended up being caught for failing to be on the top of the situation on the NAIA mishap.
Tugade was insisting that he was on the top of the situation, making it appear that he was present on the crash site at the airport.
But to many Senators, how can Transportation Secretary Tugade say that he was on top of the situation when he did not even go to the crash site at the airport? This question caught Tugade unawares during the hearing of the Senate committee on public services.
It was Senator Nancy Binay who first asked Tugade when he went to the airport.
“I did not go to the airport because I did not want to distract them. If I went there, our people might get rattled),” Tugade said in Filipino.
He added,“But for the record, I was on top of the situation from the time I was called by Ed Monreal, General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA)”.
Poe followed up Binay’s question and asked Tugade when he visited the airport after the incident.
“Hindi ko po vinisit (I did not visit [the airport] but I was on top of the situation. I was calling them,” Tugade answered.
Then Poe asked again, “So you were never able to go to the airport . Hindi pa po kayo nagpupunta ng airport magmula noon (You did not go to the airport after the incident)?”
When Tugade realized that he was incriminating himself for failure to visit the airport, he immediately corrected himself and said he went to the airport the day after the incident, but clarified that he did not go to the runway where the accident took place.
He said that he just decided to meet at the office because he did not want to add “distractions” anymore to the people who were working on the runway.
“Papaano po sila madi-distract na nandun ka? (How are they going to get distracted if you are there)?”
Then Tugade explained. “E kasi ho baka mag bigay ako ng uto -utos na hindi naman tugma sa gustong mangyari nung crisis committee kaya ang kausap ko lang nun si Eddie(I might give orders that would contradict the crisis committee’s plan. That’s why I was only talking to Eddie that time).”
Meanwhile, Binay was surprised at Tugade answers.
“Hindi ko ho makita yung scenario na hindi kayo bahagi nung crisis committee (I can’t believe that you’re not part of the crisis committee). You should have been on top of that committee,” she said.
“I was on top of the situation…,” Tugade insisted.
NAIA General Manager Ed Monreal took the cudgels for Tugade and said that the Transportation Chief had been giving them instructions during the crisis.
“If the authorities were indeed on top of the situation, how come 61 unauthorized flights landed at the airport without their knowledge)?, asked Binay.
Monreal admitted, “Hindi ho talagang nalusutan, hindi ho nagpaalam sa amin (It slipped past us, they didn’t request permission).
Binay asked back, “Hindi ho ba pareho lang ho yun? Hindi nagpaalam at nalusutan (Isn’t it just the same – those flights slipped past authorities and they did not request permission)?”
But Monreal said the concerned airlines would be given corresponding penalties. However, Binay said it’s not about the penalty but the negligence on their part that they have been denying.
Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe is not yet considering to make any recommendations yet on a possible revamp of the agencies despite the very obvious shortcomings in the way the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) handled the runway mishap.
But Poe did not hide her disbelief and inevitably blamed the management of both the DOTr and MIAA under the tutelage of DOTR Secretary Arturo Tugade and MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal, respectively, for the chaos that was created by the Xiamen Airlines when it went off the runway last August 16.
In closing she added, “Let’s see after the hearing if we can recommend changes in the leadership. But as of now, I can’t say with finality because I also need to get the opinion of my colleagues in the committee.”