Following the approval by the House Committee on Transportation on House Bill 8700, amending the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), business groups also recommended that the Senate file a counterpart measure and initiate hearings on the reform with a view to approving it by the end of 2021.
In a statement, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and Philippine business groups (PBG) emphasized that HB 8700 seeks to strengthen CAAP as the agency in charge of safety. It will enable CAAP to focus on its role as regulator and overseer of safety by removing its conflicting and multiple functions as operator and investigator. The House Committee on Transportation is chaired by Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento (Samar, 1st District).
In a recent letter to the House, the groups expressed that they have long advocated for reforms embodied in HB 8700. A 2017 policy brief published by the JFC and PBG observed that CAAP’s conflicting responsibilities as a regulator, operator, and investigator as provided in Republic Act No. 9497 “made the agency weak as a regulator and ineffective as an operator of airports.”
The same document recommended strengthening CAAP as the agency in charge of safety through amendment of the CAAP law to address human resource development, strengthen its board of directors, and increase compliance of the Philippines with international standards of safety and security.
The business groups also said that the bill will separate conflicting functions of CAAP as a regulator, operator, and investigator, and set a clear framework for the regulation of privatized airports.
The business groups believe HB 8700 addresses remaining critical elements in the supervision and management of the Philippine aviation sector and provides CAAP with sufficient power and authority to resolve deficiencies in the sector.
Additionally, amendments to RA 9497 will sustain efforts initiated by CAAP in upgrading the status of Philippine aviation so that it may gain the trust of international bodies monitoring and accrediting aviation quality throughout the world. The grave impact of COVID-19 on the Philippine aviation industry is one of many challenges requiring a highly competent CAAP more focused on a streamlined mandate in order to assist the industry to recover when the pandemic ends, according to the business groups.
The CAAP bill amendments is one of the priority measures recommended by the business groups to recover from the negative GDP brought by the pandemic.
House Speaker Allan Velasco is supporting passage of such reforms that improve the country’s business and investment climate. Other industry associations including the Safe Travel Alliance (STA), Air Carriers Association of the Philippines, and the International Air Transport Association also have manifested support and recommended amendments in the bill.
According to STA Convenor Ms. Maria Cherry Lyn Rodolfo, HB 8700 seeks to “modernize our air transport system towards an improved, safe, secure, and efficient air travel and tourism post COVID-19 and to support the recovery of almost 6 million jobs in the Philippine tourism industry.
The statement was endorsed by the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Australian-New Zealand Commerce of the Philippines Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of the Philippines, Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc., and Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc.