Last June 30, Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo Teves Jr. filed House Bill 610 proposing to rename Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport. Almost immediately, the news faced backlash online. Here’s what’s happening.
Why the need to rename?
Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. files bill seeking to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport pic.twitter.com/25adT3lt7U
— Vivienne Gulla (@VivienneGulla) July 5, 2022
Lawmaker Teves said that it “is more appropriate to rename [NAIA] to the person who has contributed to the idea and execution of the said noble project.” Teves seeks to rename it after the late former president Ferdinand E. Marcos whose son and namesake is the newly-elected president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The lawmaker also added that the country’s main gateway was done during the presidency of Marcos Sr.
“It is more appropriate to bear the name that has contributed and [left a] legacy in our country to make the Philippines a center of international and domestic air travel, who has instituted and built or conceptualized the project,” said Teves.
FACT CHECK: Was the airport built during Marcos Sr.’s regime?
Teves repeatedly said that Marcos Sr. “contributed” to the then-Manila International Airport and that he “instituted and built or conceptualized the project.”
This is false information. The air hub was built in 1948 under the administration of former president Manuel Roxas. According to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) website, the international runway and associated taxiway were built in 1953 and 1961 respectively. Marcos Sr. only came to power in 1965 when the airport was already operational for almost two decades.
The dictator, however, promulgated Executive Order No. 381 in 1972 which “authorized the development of MIA” for the coming decades.
Renaming to NAIA
Manila International Airport was renamed Ninoy Aquino International Airport in 1987, under Republic Act No. 6639. The move was in honor of the late former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the opposition leader during the Marcos Sr. regime who was shot at the then-MIA tarmac on August 21, 1983. Aquino’s assassination only fueled the Filipino people to eventually oust Marcos Sr. in February 1986.
This wasn’t the first proposal to rename NAIA. In June 2020, deputy speaker Paolo Duterte and two other lawmakers filed House Bill No. 7031 to rename the airport “Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas.”
What has the Internet to say about it?
News of the proposal to rename the airport dismayed the majority of Filipinos online. Many took to social media to express their dismay. “Why rename it [after] a dictator who violated human rights and has billions of debt when you can change it back to Manila International Airport?” questioned one netizen.
“If [you] want to rename NAIA, better to bring back it to MIA (Manila International Airport) rather than naming it after a dictator who robbed our country for his family’s lavish lifestyle,” said another.
Even Marcos loyalists don’t agree with the bill proposal saying that reverting back to MIA would be better.
Others stressed that there is a multitude of other problems this country is facing — inflation, pandemic response, etc. — and renaming an airport is not a pressing matter. “Economic recovery muna please,” read one comment on a Facebook post.
Other netizens pointed out that politicians shouldn’t even be naming streets and establishments after them. After all, it’s the taxpayer’s money that made building or rebuilding any establishment possible.
What do you think of the bill to rename NAIA after Marcos Sr.? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!