Presidential son Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, together with two other lawmakers, filed a bill seeking to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas.
In filing House Bill 7031 with ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Yap and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, Duterte stressed the need for a more representative branding for the country’s international gateway.
He said that aside from bearing the country’s name, their proposed name of Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas is also in the Philippines’ national language.
“We want it to reflect the legacy of the Filipino people, our everyday heroes. The name bears no color, no political agenda. It only signifies our warmth as Filipinos in welcoming our own kababayans and foreign visitors,” Duterte said.
Velasco, on the other hand, said that their proposal seeks to reposition the Philippines as a choice destination for tourists, especially when the country reopens its borders for travelers once the COVID-19 crisis is over.
“Renaming it to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas will not only benefit and bolster our brand as a destination hub, but will also strengthen the country’s identity,” Velasco said.
“I am confident that by doing so, it will provide us a competitive edge as our neighbors open their doors, too, to visitors. Changing the name of NAIA to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas gives every Filipino a great sense of pride and ownership of the country’s biggest and largest international airport,” he said.
Yap said that they want returning Filipinos or balikbayans and foreign tourists alike to see the name of the country right away once their flights land at the airport, making them feel at home.
“Marami naman na personalidad na karapat-dapat rin na sa kanila ipangalan ang institusyon, daan, at iba pa. Pero pagdating sa ating paliparan, dapat ay sumalamin ito sa bansa at sa sambayanang Pilipino,” he said.
The original name of the airport was Manila International Airport (MIA), but in 1987, during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino, it was renamed NAIA through Republic Act 6639, in honor of her husband and former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
Ninoy was assassinated at this airport on August 21, 1983 after a three-year exile in the United States.
His death sparked various protests leading up to the first EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, during which the Marcos family fled the Philippines to Hawaii and Corazon was catapulted to the presidency.
Meanwhile, renaming NAIA, moreso amid the pandemic, is ill-timed, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
“Nasa gitna tayo ng pandemya, ito pa talaga ang maiisip. Number one, it is ill-timed,” Robredo said.
“When I first read it…ngayon pa talaga? Now that we need all hands on deck at magtulong-tulong para labanan ang pandemya?” Robredo added./Stacy Ang