Zubiri to CAAP: Lack of CCTVs inside most vital, sensitive facilities a national security concern

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Thursday, January 12 questioned officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) over their lack of security measures, particularly the absence of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the areas that housed the supposed damaged equipment that caused an air traffic meltdown on New Year’s Day.

At the Senate initial probe into the power shutdown that hit the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last January 1, Zubiri said he cannot “fathom the idea” that the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) would “conk out on its own.”

“So this should be treated like a forensic investigation. We need to lay out the timeline of the day, from when it happened to the repair of the machinery and equipment,” Zubiri pointed out during the hearing.

But when the Senate leader requested CAAP to submit a CCTV footage of the area housing the damaged equipment that caused the air traffic control shutdown, he was told by CAAP officials that there are in fact no CCTV cameras in the areas in question.

“Are you trying to tell me that in this most sensitive section, there is no CCTV footage?” Zubiri asked.

To this, CAAP Director General Manuel Antonio Tamayo confirmed that there are no CCTV cameras in the area, but explained that they employ stringent security measures and only authorized personnel can enter.

According to Tamayo insisted that they maintain a log of the personnel on duty.

Zubiri remarked that such arrangement is a national security concern, insisting that a CCTV footage would have greatly helped them in investigating the shutdown, and allow them to easily identify any personnel who were around the equipment during the time of the incident.

A CCTV system, the senator also said, would also allow for real-time monitoring, and prevent any breaches in security in the future.

“Sen. JV Ejercito and I had the chance to go to a nuclear power facility in France when we were there on official business, and we had to go through four different security checks to get in. Every corner had CCTV cameras, not one blind spot,” Zubiri explained.

“Hindi ko po maintindihan na walang security footage diyan sa pinakamaselang lugar ng mga equipment ng CAAP. Hindi natin alam, baka may double agent na diyan, o may tao na diyan na nag-sabotage ng equipment (I don't understand that there is no security footage in the most sensitive area of the CAAP equipment. We don't know, maybe there is a double agent there, or someone there who sabotaged the equipment). We will never know. We will have to believe them hook, line, and sinker, from the logs. With CCTV footage, we would have been able to see if the system was overheating, if the system was diverted),” the Senate leader pointed out.

“It is unforgivable that we do not have a monitoring surveillance system in that facility,” he reiterated.

Zubiri said it is important for CAAP to start putting up surveillance cameras within its vital facilities and tighten security in the area.

“We need to do that now, we must have monitoring and surveillance cameras within the most important facility of the CAAP building,” he said, adding that the Senate is always prepared to set aside a budget to improve CAAP’s security system.