Bill Gates sighted in Los Baños?

By Rudy Santos
Bill Gates sighted in Los Baños?

Microsoft founder Bill Gates reportedly arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) yesterday from Palawan on a private jet.

Airport sources said Bill Gates used his full name, William Gates.

There were reports that Gates arrived at NAIA’s general aviation area on April 4 and boarded a private plane with registry number NAH7 WN, said to be owned by the Soriano family, and headed for Amanpulo in Palawan.

The private jet is still inside the hangar of Asian Aerospace at the NAIA.

Officials could not provide more information about Gates’ arrival and departure.

A report from InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5, said the billionaire philanthropist visited the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna yesterday morning.

Neither Microsoft Philippines nor IRRI officials would confirm Gates’ presence in the country.

Aviation sector sources, however, confirmed that a private jet tied to Gates was in the country, and had flown into Manila from Puerto Princesa. The plane supposedly arrived in Palawan on Black Saturday.

Gates, co-founder of tech giant Microsoft Corp., has been more active in operations of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Sources in University of the Philippines Los Baños, in whose sprawling Makiling campus IRRI is located, said Gates was in IRRI for at least two hours and was likely in consultations on the latest developments in rice research.

The Gates Foundation supports anti-poverty programs, technology and innovations worldwide, and in the past had invested as much as $20 million in research for the Golden Rice variety developed in IRRI.

The genetically modified crop ostensibly holds out hope for cheaper, easier-to-propagate and fortified rice that can be used to fight hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. Fortified with Vitamins A and B, Golden Rice can help curb child mortality and blindness, researchers have said.