Solons seek to probe CAAP ‘technical glitch’

Domestic Affairs

MANILA: Senate Majority Floor Leader Joel Villanueva on Tuesday filed a resolution seeking to investigate the “technical glitch” in the country’s air traffic management system that caused flight disruptions on New Year’s Day.


Villanueva’s Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 390 also seeks to improve the country’s overall air traffic services, using it as an engine of further economic growth and aligning the relevant agencies’ plans with the goals of the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 to spur the economy, revitalize the tourism sector, and create more opportunities for job generation.


Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada also filed SRN 392 for the same purpose.


Estrada said the technical issues and power outage that paralyzed the operations of Ninoy Aquino International Airport further highlight the need for system upgrades and the hiring of competent manpower and experts to man the facilities.


“We also have to be on guard against cybersecurity attacks, sabotage, disasters, and other threats,” he said, noting that the 10-hour technical glitch spells massive losses for the national economy.


“If we really want to transform from being one of the world’s best, we have to ensure the highest quality of service for all its users. It’s high time that we take a look at its current state,” he added.


While travelers are advised to expect some hitches during their trips, Senator Risa Hontiveros said it should never get in the way of thousands of people not meeting their loved ones, keeping their doctor’s appointments and celebrating their well-earned holidays.


“Most of all, many of our OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] are worried about losing their jobs because of the flight cancellations. Our migrants and OFWs deserve better service. In 2021 alone, the total OFW remittance reached PHP151.33 billion. They should not be languishing in job stress,” she said.


Hontiveros, who is also set to file another resolution for the investigation, considered the event as a wake-up call for airport authorities to review the schedules of airlines during busy seasons, which could have led to this level of loss of critical functions.


“Are our ‘outdated’ facilities truly able to handle this amount of activity? A transparent report on this system’s crash is in the public interest. If, after a thorough investigation, an upgrade is indeed part of the solution, then Congress can address this during the budget process,” she said.


Meanwhile, Senator Francis Tolentino questioned the CAAP why its backup systems and business continuity plans (BCP) were not utilized.


Tolentino said he plans to present to the Senate inquiry a video footage obtained by his sources showing that CAAP’s Tagaytay City facilities were functioning normally amid the chaos at NAIA.


“Pinapuntahan ko po iyon… kasi alam ko po yung approach ng NAIA sa Tagaytay po muna nagbibigay ng signal pero operational naman po sila, may video ako. Sabi nung mga tao roon eh nakatanggap lang sila ng abiso don sa ATMC na nagkaroon ng (I sent someone there because I know the approach of NAIA is giving signal to Tagaytay but they were operational, I have a video. The people there said they have received an advisory from the ATMC that there was a) fluctuation,” Tolentino said.


Resolutions filed and to be filed are set to be referred to the Senate Committee on Public Services chaired by Senator Grace Poe.


PAF willing to help CAAP


Meanwhile, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) expressed willingness to provide assistance to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), if requested.


PAF spokesperson Col. Ma. Consuelo Castillo said Monday night this is possible due to their role as “force provider”.


“As a force provider, the PAF can deliver support to other requesting agencies under the direction of higher headquarters, and within our current capabilities. We are not fully aware of the specific details and cause of the CAAP incident, but if the PAF will be requested or called upon to provide personal or technical support within what we are currently capable of, then by all means we will provide our services,” she added.


With modern radars coming online for the PAF through its modernization program, Castillo said they are looking to have more engagements with the CAAP in the coming days.


“Looking forward, with more advanced radars coming through our modernization program, we can have more engagements with CAAP on how we can share future capabilities in providing air traffic services,” she added.


Source: Philippines News Agency