Press Release
January 3, 2023


The human and economic cost of the recent New Year meltdown at our airports is incalculable.

With the magnitude of delay and suffering experienced by travelers, I am prepared to file a Senate resolution to find out why things went terribly wrong during such an important time of the year.

While travelers are advised to expect some hitches during their trips, adverse events like these 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 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 P151.33 billion. They should not be languishing in job stress.

CAAP recognized that the system is "outdated" and that this has actually been brought to the attention of both Presidents Duterte and Marcos.

Therefore, this may not be just an ordinary "glitch", as the early diagnosis said. Dismissing it as a simple "bug" ignores the systemic problems at our airports. Let us not take the easy way out and blame the equipment outright. The fact that the back up also failed could mean there are more unseen problems down the line.

Before we get the much-talked about "upgrade" let's see if the problem was compounded by human error or negligence in maintaining the equipment.

This is a complex system that requires simulations, repeated trials, refining policies based on feedback, and possibly, even more testing.

Our vulnerability to cyber attacks using the current system must also be assessed, as there have been many cases abroad where it pushed air traffic control systems offline. I have raised a similar call before regarding our national grid.

This is also a wake up call for our airport authorities to review the aggressive 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 Are our "outdated" facilities truly able to handle this amount of activity?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 systems 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.

Clearly, someone has to be held accountable. All agencies involved, such as CAAP, DOTR, DOT, DOE, and DMW must all do their part to review the resilience of our air travel systems so we can create a better recovery strategy for everyone visiting the Philippines.

And as prices of air travel, checked bags, hotels, and many other charges go up, we owe it to everyone to get it right.

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