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DOTr Chief insists he was not ‘missing in action’ in Xiamen airline incident

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After being harshly criticized for“missing in action” during the incident when Xiamen Airlines aircraft went off the runway at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said that he visited the actual crash site of the Xiamen Airlines, contrary to what he initially said during the first public hearing.

Tugade insisted that he was on top of the situation and made sure that everything is under control. He said that during the incident, he was not able to sleep when he received a phone call around 1 a.m. from Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Eddie Monreal until the airport was cleared, adding that he was coordinating with them through phone throughout the whole ordeal.

But during the Senate hearing on the incident on Monday, Tugade stressed that he just avoided being seen as his presence will only pressure those who are working to remove the aircraft that went off past the runway and into grass.

The Transportation Chief said, “Lilinawin ko lang po, nandoon po ako sa mismong area sa pinangyarihan ng insidente. Hindi lang po ako nagpakita, dahil alam ko po ang epekto ng aking presensya sa pagta-trabaho ng lahat.”

During the previous hearing last August 29, Tugade was grilled by Senate public services committee chair Grace Poe and Senate tourism committee chair Nancy Binay for his failure to oversee the removal of the aircraft.

Thousands of passengers were affected when a Xiamen aircraft went off the main runway of NAIA last August 16 that resulted to cancellation and diversion of both local and international flights. The NAIA was paralyzed for almost 36 hours and so many OFWs were affected and furious about the inaction from the government agencies that are supposed to help them.

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