PH gov't helping out PAL after bankruptcy filing, says Roque

Published September 6, 2021, 5:36 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Malacañang has underscored the importance of keeping the financially beleaguered Philippine Airlines (PAL) “in the air” amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

(Photo from PAL Facebook page)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing Monday, Sept. 6 that the Philippine government has already extended relief to the flag-carrier, which over the weekend filed for bankruptcy in the United States (US) in an effort to reduce its debt by $2 billion.

“Tumutulong na po ang gobyerno kasi alam natin na kinakailangan hindi mawala yung sinasakyan ng mga Pilipino lalung lalo na yung mga OFWs (The government is already helping because we know that we can’t let the airlines that is being used by Filipinos, especially the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), disappear),” Roque said.

“At kinakailangan patuloy nating magamit ang ating mga flag-carriers [sa] pag-angkat po ng mga supplies at ng mga bakuna (We also need to keep our flag-carriers for the purpose of flying in supplies and vaccines),” he added.

The airline industry has been among those hardest hit by the ongoing health crisis. The emergence of the new coronavirus last year reduced air traffic on a grand scale last year, and carriers like PAL have yet to recover.

Roque noted that PAL let go 2,300 employees before filing for bankruptcy. If there’s any bright side to this, it’s that PAL won’t have to retrench more workers.

“Wala na pong maaapektuhan [na workers] (No more workers will be affected),” the Palace official said

But how exactly is the Philippine government assisting PAL? Roque gave some specifics.

“Na-confirm ko na po na marami na pong charges ang wi-naive ng gobyerno at kasama na po dito yung mga landing fees at tsaka yung mga aerodrome fees (I’ve confirmed that the government has waived a lot of fees and these include the landing fees and aerodrome fees).”

“Bukod pa po dito, mayroon po ngayong proposal (There’s a proposal aside from this),” he continued, “kasi doon sa rehabilitation plan ng PAL ay mayroon silang exit financing na mga $150 million. Ngayon po ang mga nagpapautang ay mga dayuhan na financial institutions (under PAL’s rehabilitation plan, they have access to exit financing worth P150 million. Now, it’s the foreign financial institutions that are lending them money).”

“Pero (But) this is without prejudice po for our Landbank and DBP [Development Bank of the Philippines] to also provide part of yung kinakailangan na (the needed) exit financing, pero wala pa pong desisyon (but there is no decision yet),” Roque said.

Exit financing is the financing provided to Chapter 11 debtors to allow them to emerge from bankruptcy. It is also called exit facility.

“Now by the time po kasi na magkaroon ng (they get) exit financing, hindi na po insolvent ang PAL (PAL would no longer be insolvent), so they can already avail of loans from our government financial officers, GFOs,” the Palace mouthpiece said.

PAL is controlled by Filipino billionaire Lucio Tan.