Revilla files bill to strengthen CAAP

Senator Ramon ‘’Bong’’ Revilla Jr has filed a bill seeking to strengthen the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and amending the Civil Aviation Act of 2008.

Revilla filed the bill following the technical glitch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that led to the disruption of flights on New Year’s Day.

The CAAP, according to Revilla, admitted that the country’s air traffic management system is outdated, there is a massive brain drain of qualified air controllers as they chase more competitive pay checks abroad and there is a compelling discussion on air traffic privatisation.

Revilla said that his Senate Bill 1654 seeks to address the deficiencies in the management of the civll aviation industry in the country by strengthening the CAAP as the country’s designated authority.

Among the amendments under the Revilla bill are to increase the term of the Directeor-General (DG) to seven years, exempt CAAP from the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) and enhance their fiscal autonomy.

In today’s hybrid public hearing by the Senate public services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe on the technical glitch at the NAIA, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda reminded concerned agencies not to use as an excuse the United States Federal Aviation Administration's (US-FAA) system outage last Tuesday, “in any manner, any reason that we may get."

“We want to get to the bottom of the outage in NAIA so that it is not replicated in the future,” Legarda added.

On the other hand, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva clarified that the hearing is not about pointing fingers, but rather, establishing accountability and ensuring that the unfortunate occurrence never happens again.

"This incident has far-reaching implications not only economically, national security, but also, in terms of the mental health of the people who were affected by the delays,’’ he said.

We want to know if this was really an unforeseen event or was this merely a disaster waiting to happen. Were there similar incidents that happened in the past? If there were, why was it not corrected?" Villanueva asked.

Apart from probing the system glitch, Villanueva also hoped that the hearing would also help the committee and relevant government institutions come up with measures that would ensure that the country's air-traffic management system is up to par with the highest global standards.