By Former Rep. Walden Bello
The Laglag Bala scandal is one more item in the growing list of DOTC mishaps. Secretary Abaya is well-meaning but he’s just not up to the task of managing this critical arm of government. You need someone who combines good management skills with fearless determination to bust the criminal syndicates in the various agencies. Abaya has neither.
This is the the second controversy in less than a year that NAIA General Manager Angel Jose Honrado has been linked to. He became notorious as the bureaucrat who cooked up the illegal plan to have our OFWs pay the airport tax, a measure from which they are exempted by law. This time he has been clearly negligent in overseeing airport security.
The Laglag Bala scam represents something much bigger. The scandal underlines how cronyism undermines good governance. Both Abaya and Honrado have been encouraged in their mismanagement by their closeness to the president. Like others in the Aquino cabinet, they have so far seen themselves as untouchable. Will President Aquino finally stop his awful practice of coddling his cronies and get rid of this duo before they wreak more damage at the DOTC?
As the former Chair of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Overseas Workers’ Affairs, I am especially concerned about the impact of laglag bala on our OFWs. Many have expressed fear through social media and an online petition about coming home this holiday season, which is a time when they reunite with their families. Instead of anticipating this happy reunion after toiling all year long, they are worried about being victimized by the laglag-bala scam. Many problems have festered at the airport under the Abaya-Honrado watch. Notorious among these other problems is the malignant growth of the taxi and transport cartels that victimize returning OFWs by charging an arm and a leg for short distances. These monopolies must be swept away, along with Abaya, Honrado, and the Laglag Bala syndicate.
Getting rid of Abaya and Honrado, immediately bringing the culprits behind Laglag Bala to justice, and busting the taxi and transport cartels is the least the Aquino administration can do to rectify the its record of neglect of a very important part of our nation.