By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday, July 17, wished Philippine Airlines, Inc. (PAL) chairman Dr. Lucio Tan “a thousand years more” on his 83rd birthday despite his previous tirades against the Filipino-Chinese tycoon.
Last year, Mr. Duterte said that his administration would go after the country’s flag carrier PAL over its alleged unpaid fees amounting to P7.3 billion. The President also linked Mr. Tan to destabilization efforts against him.
“Sir, may God grant you a thousand years more of your life. Happy birthday, Mr. Tan. You are 83 years old and still a success story on all fronts,” the President said in his speech at the unveiling ceremony of PAL’s Airbus A350 and A321 Neo at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Tuesday evening.
He added: “This milestone would not have been possible without the decisive leadership of Dr. Lucio Tan, who is celebrating his 83rd birthday today. Dr. Tan, I wish you a happy birthday and may you continue to be endowed with good health, countless blessings and greater success in all endeavors. Today marks a momentous achievement not only for PAL, but for the entire country as well.”
“I commend the airline for its efforts to deliver quality flight experience to all its passengers by modernizing its fleet, expanding its reach and providing wholehearted care that is distinctively Filipino,” he also said.
Mr. Duterte also thanked PAL and Cebu Pacific Air for helping the government in the repatriation of the distressed Filipino workers from Kuwait last February. “Let me just express my profound gratitude to the two airlines that helped the government during the Kuwait stressful moments, not a crisis… I requested, though we had the money then, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to fly to Kuwait and bring in some of our countrymen who were there in distress,” he said.
The President noted that PAL’s recent “accomplishments and existing initiatives will encourage more people to travel to the Philippines, thereby boosting our tourism industry.”
“Do remember that you serve as a gateway to the beauty of our islands and the vibrancy of our culture. The tourism sector is full of exciting opportunities that do not only showcase our unique heritage. In fact, it is also a crucial instrument for the development of the livelihood of our citizenry,” the President also said.