Former senator Franklin M. Drilon hit the proposal to rename the country’s main airport Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after the father and namesake of newly sworn-in President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., calling the bill “divisive, reeks of politics, and ill-timed.”

“I would like to believe that the incoming 19th Congress has more urgent things to do than to rename an airport, such as how to arrest inflation and address the surging oil prices,” Drilon said in a statement on Wednesday, July 6, 2022.

“There is no compelling reason to change the name of NAIA. Any proposal to rename NAIA will always be seen as political and divisive,” Drilon said. “This obvious attempt for ingratiation is actually a disfavor to President Marcos Jr. It will not augur well with the call for unity of the Marcos administration.”

“Leave NAIA alone,” Drilon added.

Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves filed House Bill 610 seeking to rename NAIA to Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport.

The move, according to Drilon, will only divide the attention of Congress in pursuing much-needed legislation that can help the economy, strengthen the health care system and save the country’s education system from further deterioration.

“I hope the 19th Congress will focus on these critical areas, most especially the terrible state of our education system,” said Drilon as he noted a World Bank study which found out that nine out of 10 Filipino kids aged 10 could not read.

Based on the World Bank study, Drilon said the learning poverty is alarming at 90 percent in 2020, whereas Indonesia has 35.4 percent, Malaysia at 13.9 percent, Singapore at 2.8 percent, Thailand at 23.5 percent, and Vietnam at 1.7 percent.

In the said report, the other countries with learning poverty included Ethiopia (90.3 percent), Madagascar (96.7 percent), Yemen (94.7 percent), and Afghanistan (93.4 percent).

“This should be the main priority of this administration and the 19th Congress along with reviving the economy and addressing inflation, not renaming NAIA,” Drilon said.