Press Release
November 12, 2012

Philippine civil aviation flunks evaluation anew,
Revilla calls for extension of oversight committee

A joint resolution was approved by the Senate today extending the life of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (COCCAAP) for another five years to address the Philippines' flunking in the evaluation conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which retains the Category 2 status of the country.

Senate Joint Resolution No. 18 was authored by Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.,chairman of the Committee on Public Services.

"The Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008 was enacted due to safety concerns raised by the ICAO that caused the downgrading of the Philippine aviation status from Category 1 to Category 2 by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of the United States and the blacklisting by the European Union (EU) of our local air carriers to fly to European countries," according to Revilla.

Under Senate Joint Resolution No. 18, the COCCAAP is directed to continue its mandate of monitoring the proper implementation of Republic Act No. 9497 or the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008 for another five years starting March 4, 2013.

Republic Act No. 9497 or the Civil Aviation Act of 2008, abolishing the Air Transportation Office (ATO) and creating the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), aims to reform the country's civil aviation industry by promoting, developing and regulating technical, operational, safety and aviation security functions.

According to Section 91 of the said law, the COCCAAP will be established to monitor and ensure the proper implementation of the law; review the collection performance of the CAAP; and review the proper implementation of the programs of the CAAP and the use of its collected fund. Section 91 also requires the CAAP to submit all pertinent information including its collection performance data and its annual audited financial statements as certified by the Commission on Audit.

"The COCCAAP was assured that the Philippine aviation industry is on the right track towards Category 1 and will then be scrapped from EU's blacklisting. CAAP still has to comply with the requisite of hiring additional qualified technical personnel which was among the items set forth in the Significant Safety Concerns of ICAO," Revilla said.

In an en banc meeting of COCCAAP, Revilla also raised the issues of flying schools being issued licenses even though they do not own a single airplane, and the suspected "free rides" given by plane operators to CAAP employees inspecting their airplanes.

"How could they produce qualified pilots if there is no hands-on flight training? Even these flying schools rent planes from other flying schools, I doubt if their students can have the proper pilot skills with the limited actual training.

"What is the purpose of the free rides other than to be lax in the conduct of inspection? That is tantamount to indirect bribery. We are putting the lives of the airplane passengers and pilots at risk here," Revilla said.

Also discussed during the meeting was the Robredo plane crash which revealed that CAAP does not have sufficient equipment needed to effectively respond to emergency cases.

"Among the prerequisites for us to regain the Category 1 status and be excluded from the EU's blacklist is to have at least two fire trucks per airport," Revilla claimed. "These are factors that should be considered in our pursuit for answers, not only in our failure to meet international standards in civil aviation but also in the frequency of aircraft accidents in the country."

Last September, the COCCAAP directed CAAP officials to set a time frame to fulfill their mandate but until now, the time frame is not yet given and other compliances were required to be submitted to the committee.

"The few months left for COCCAAP is too short to see to it that the time frame will be accomplished. What we want is for CAAP's plans to be concrete, not promises to be broken. I firmly believe that it would be a great help if the Joint Congressional Committee, as a watchdog and in aid of legislation, continue its mandate for another five years," Revilla said. (Apple Buenaventura, PRIB)

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