Press Release
January 12, 2023

Zubiri: Why No CCTV on CAAP Equipment?

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri is decrying the lack of security measures in the facilities of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), following his line of questioning during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services on Thursday, regarding the shutdown of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Air Traffic System at the beginning of the year.

"I cannot fathom the idea that the CNS/ATM would conk out on its own," said Zubiri, referring to the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management.

"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."

As Zubiri requested CAAP to submit closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the area housing the damaged equipment that caused the air traffic control shutdown, he was surprised to learn 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?"

CAAP Director General Manuel Antonio-Tamayo confirmed that there are no CCTV cameras in the area, but explained that there are strict security measures in place, and only authorized personnel can enter. They maintain a log of the personnel on duty.

Zubiri marked this as a national security concern. CCTV footage would have greatly aided the investigation into the shutdown, allowing for the easy identification of any personnel around the equipment during the time of the incident. A CCTV system 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 stressed.

"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. 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."

"It is unforgivable that we do not have a monitoring surveillance system in that facility."

In the absence of security footage, Zubiri said, "We need to come up with a minute-by-minute report of the timeline."

"And we need to have tighter security and surveillance systems for CAAP now," Zubiri insisted.

He said that the Senate is always prepared to apportion the necessary budget needed to improve CAAP's security systems, particularly to protect their equipment, which can very quickly shut down the country's entire aviation sector, endanger the lives of passengers, and threaten national security.

Zubiri's line of questioning also revealed possible lapses in maintenance over CAAP's equipment, given that the authority is not presently working with a third-party maintenance provider, and is instead doing in-house maintenance checks.

DG Tamayo said that they are in talks with French company Thales regarding this, but issues over outstanding claims going back to 2013 have made the company unwilling to enter into another contract. Japanese company Sumitomo Corporation was also involved in a joint venture with Thales to construct the air traffic management building, but has since stepped back from conducting their maintenance services, following the expiration of their contract in 2020.

"Let us dig deeper into this issue on the maintenance--or the lack of maintenance--on these equipment," Zubiri said.

"If we want to reach middle-income status as a nation, if we want to beat our neighbors in the region, we have to think higher levels of service for our people."

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