Do Not Read This: Diego Cagahastian from Opinyon
Do Not Read This

Wrong again, Harry Roque

Sep 13, 2021, 7:09 AM
Diego S. Cagahastian

Diego S. Cagahastian


THE cantankerous spox, after making a scene scolding doctors and leaders of various medical associations at a high-level meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), made another boo-boo anew -- this time about the fees and obligations Philippine Airlines (PAL) has with the government that he assured the Duterte administration is waiving.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque previously announced that the losing airline of Lucio Tan has been assured of assistance by the government by way of loans from the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines, apart from waiving fees and rentals it owed the government.

Earlier, Philippine Airlines ($:PAL) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection before a United States court, to stay the hand of its creditors from running after its assets even as the airline submitted a business rehabilitation plan to forestall an impending closure.

Last week, a judge in New York granted PAL's request to access the first $20 million of its debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing worth $505 million, which will start the airline's bankruptcy proceedings in the United States.

With this development, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez asked Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to redouble his department's efforts to collect some half a billion pesos of official charges and fees PAL owes the government.

Dominguez cited a report from the DOTr that said PAL and its budget subsidiary Air Philippines Corp., known as PAL Express, owed the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) about P570 million.

The report said their unpaid obligations are for air navigation, rentals, utilities and check-in counters, aside from PAL's unremitted terminal fee collections amounting to P114.2 million.

What is interesting is the fact that these charges have been incurred since 1996.

In the case of landing fees, Dominguez clarified that these are collected by the Manila International Airport Authority and are part of the airline's daily operations.

The terminal fees are really government taxes for the use of the airport terminals and PAL is just a collecting agent.Why it held on to the amount of P114.2 million for years and under several administrations-- monies it does not own -- reflects on the accommodation Lucio Tan had been given by past presidents and cabinet officials.We can just wonder what these officials got in return.

PAL Holdings Inc. ($:PAL) was last traded in the Philippine Stock Exchange on June 16, 2021, closing at 6.05.

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