DAVAO CITY,  October 4, 2004
By Edith Regalado - The newly constructed Davao International Airport (DIA) here may be ultra-modern but some basic amenities are not available, much to the chagrin of President Arroyo,

The President was visibly irked when she discovered there was no toilet paper available in the ladies’ room at the DIA’s VIP lounge.

"If there is no toilet paper at the VIP lounge, how much more in the restrooms used by majority of the passengers?" the Chief Executive asked.

The President made this joking query during dinner Friday with Davao-based journalists at the Davao Waterfront Insular Hotel.

She was further angered when told by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that the city government actually supplies the toilet paper despite the fact that the Air Transportation Office (ATO) manages the P6-billion airport facility, which was opened in December last year.

"How can that be?" The President asked as she said she doesn’t want the Davao airport to deteriorate.

However, Mrs. Arroyo commended the efforts of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, of the Jesus the Name Above Every Name congregation, in helping beautify the surroundings of the airport.

"It is good to know there are private individuals who help," she said.

The President has lamented why the DIA, even if it is considered one of the most modern airports in the country, is not earning enough to sustain its operations. She cited the lack of flights to and from the facility despite the number of entitlements and landing rights granted to various airlines.

"The Davao airport is losing and only the Mactan Airport in Cebu and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are earning among our international airports," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo has ordered Manila International Airport Authority general manager Alfonso Cusi to immediately work on the mechanism for placing the management of the DIA under the MIAA.

"We need whatever we get from the Manila and Cebu airports to subsidize the operations of the Davao airport," she said.

Cusi told The STAR that the MIAA will work on enticing airlines to use the DIA. He said that within two weeks, they will have crafted the organizational structure of the agency that will oversee the operations of the DIA.

The President, meanwhile, couldn’t say no to Duterte’s invitation to end her busy Friday with songs and durian at the After Dark Piano Bar, his favorite hjangout here.

The President, clad in a red Muslim-inspired dress — the same one she wore to the grand Islamic wedding of Vice Mayor of Parang, Sulu Madzhar Loong and Mely Ann Paglas earlier in the afternoon at the Davao Waterfront Insular Hotel — accepted Duterte’s invitation for a night out.

Both Mrs. Arroyo and Duterte acted as principal sponsors at the wedding that was considered Mindanao’s "wedding of the century," with the couple being members of the most powerful Muslim clans in the South.

The bride is the daughter of Datu Ibrahim Paglas III, former mayor of Datu Paglas town in Sultan Kudarat, while the groom is the nephew of Sulu Gov. Ben Loong.

The President went to piano bar at 8:30 p.m., after attending two other functions, including a dinner with Davao-based journalists earlier in the evening.

Friday night’s sortie was actually the third time the President visited the bar. Her first visit there was in July 2002 and her second was in the middle of last year.

After Dark is a small but cozy bar sandwiched between Yellow Fin Seafood House and ET KTV Bar along Quimpo Boulevard here. Duterte frequents and entertains most of his visitors at the piano bar, which has become famous, thanks to his patronage.

While feasting on durian, chicaron bulaklak and peanuts, Mrs. Arroyo listened to Duterte rendering ‘Ikaw’ with Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes, who also dished out a few songs.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap also took to the mini stage, as did Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza and Armed Forces Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Generoso Senga, who was still in uniform.

Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief Col. Delfin Bangit said the President rarely goes on nights-out.

"But she needs it. She needs to (go out and have fun) every now and then, get into gatherings like this one after all she has to go through. She has to relax also, " Bangit told The STAR.

The President left the bar at 11 p.m., with enough time for her to rest before flying back to Manila yesterday morning.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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