Duterte warns of military 'takeover' of NAIA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he will ask the Philippine Air Force to "take over" the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), once tagged as the worst in the world, if operations do not improve.

"'Yang NAIA na 'yan 'pag hindi kayo nag-improve diyan, magtake-over diyan Air Force. 'Yan lang ang paraan diyan na -," Duterte said at a campaign rally of the ruling PDP-Laban party in Palawan Thursday night.

[Translation: "NAIA, if it does not improve, the Air Force will take over. That's the only way."]

He did not finish his sentence or elaborate. The President made the statement as he discussed the case of the beleaguered Bureau of Customs (BOC), which he earlier said would be taken over by the Armed Forces.

Duterte had appointed Rey Leonardo Guerrero, a former Armed Forces chief, as Customs Commissioner, prompting criticisms that government agencies were being taken over by military officials. Guerrero denied this, saying that the President only asked the Armed Forces "to assist" in the BOC.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in December 2018 warned that security at the NAIA did not meet international standards and the government said it had made security measures in the country's main international gateway a top priority.

A consortium of seven big business firms has also been contracted to rehabilitate, operate and maintain NAIA.