A SENATOR has called for institutional reforms in the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) after technical mishap on Jan. 1 that downed the country’s air traffic control system, causing flight cancellations and delays in all airports.
“The technical glitch that took place last January 1 was a wake-up call for all of us about the need to address the gaps in our air transport systems and the CAAP is front and center in all of this, which is why we have to institute the necessary reforms to provide the agency the tools necessary to effectively fulfill its mandate,” Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” E. Angara said in a statement on Monday.
He recommended the passage of Senate Bill 1003, which will mandate the inclusion of the secretaries of tourism and national defense as additional members of the CAAP board.
Two representatives from the private sector, appointed by the President, will also sit in the CAAP board.
Under the bill, the agency’s fiscal autonomy will also be enhanced, as it will be exempted from Republic Act 7656 or the Dividend Law to maximize the use of its revenues.
The bill will also exempt the CAAP from the coverage of the Governance Commission for state-owned corporations and the Salary Standardization Law in consideration of the highly technical nature of its functions.
The Senate Committee on Public Services will investigate the incident that affected about 65,000 domestic and international passengers.
Mr. Angara said the focus of the probe should be on pinpointing accountability and ensuring that the relevant systems and institutions are capacitated in preparation and response to sudden occurrences.
Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the committee, on Monday said officials of the Department of Transportation, Manila International Airport Authority, and other concerned executives have been invited to attend the hearing.
“We want to know what the agencies plan to do so that this does not happen again,” she said in a statement. “We should find out who are responsible. If there’s somebody whom we can call out, who may have been negligent, of course they have to be reprimanded if not fired.” “This did not happen overnight. Obviously, it stems from many years of transactions and maintenance upgrades,” she added.
Ms. Poe also said it is time to tap the private sector to modernize the country main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“We have always pushed for privatization not just of the air traffic control system but of the airport itself,” she said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan