Senator Sonny Angara on Monday, January 9 pushed for the passage of a bill that seeks to introduce reforms and strengthen the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
Angara said the technical glitch that hit the country’s air traffic management system that led to the disruption of all flights during the New Year’s Day, should prompt the implementation of long-term solutions to prevent a repeat of the incident.
“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,” Angara said in a statement.
The senator said the Senate Committee on Public Services upcoming investigation into the issue should focus on at least two points: finding out who was accountable for the glitch and, ensuring that relevant systems and institutions are prepared to respond to similar occurences, even though they take place very rarely.
Sen. Grace Poe, chairperson of the public services committee, has scheduled the Upper Chamber’s initial probe into the technical glitch that hit Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Jan. 1, 2023 on January 12.
As chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Angara said he hopes Senate Bill No. 1003, or the proposed bill that seeks to strengthen the CAAP, which he filed last year, would be taken up during the Senate probe.
“We first filed the bill way back in 2018 upon the recommendation of the Safe Travel Alliance, with inputs from the CAAP,” Angara said in a statement.
“We refiled the bill in the current 19th Congress in recognition of the need to strengthen the CAAP as part of the efforts to ensure the safety, reliability and efficiency of air transport in our country,” the senator added.
Angara pointed out that the law that created the CAAP, or Republic Act 9497, was enacted in 2008 and as such, needs to be upgraded to address deficiencies in the supervision and management of the country’s aviation industry.
The bill proposes that two new members be added to the CAAP board: namely, the secretary of Department of Tourism (DOT) and the secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND).
The measure also seeks to add two representatives from the private sector to also sit in the CAAP Board. The President will appoint these two representatives.
Angara also said that the measure aims to enhance CAAP’s fiscal autonomy with the grant of an exemption from the coverage of Republic Act 7656 or the Dividend Law so that the agency can maximize the use of its revenues.
The bill also calls for the exemption of CAAP from the coverage of the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) Law and the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) in consideration of the highly technical nature of the functions of the agency.