Press Release
January 15, 2023

Poe wants CAAP chief to inhibit from probe on NAIA air traffic mess

Sen. Grace Poe has asked Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general Manuel Antonio Tamayo to inhibit from the ongoing investigation on the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) air traffic fiasco to ensure an impartial scrutiny of the incident.

"CAAP cannot be investigating itself. I hope an independent body will be formed to look into the incident and definitely, Captain Tamayo cannot sit there and all those under him," Poe said in a radio interview Sunday.

"Pinagkakatiwalaan ko si (Department of Transportation) Secretary Jaime Bautista, matagal na sya sa private sector, iginagalang. Siguro, pwedeng magtalaga ng pwedeng mag-imbestiga na walang kinikilingan," she added.

The senator said former CAAP director general William Hotchkiss and a representative from the country's association of civil aviation engineers could be included in the independent body that will look into the air traffic fiasco.

The CAAP said it has launched an internal investigation into the New Year's Day technical glitch at the NAIA that cancelled flights and stranded thousands of passengers.

Asked if the CAAP head should resign or take a leave, Poe said that the fate of Tamayo is up to the DOTr chief, but added, "Pero maaari sigurong magtalaga muna ng iba na talagang magaling ang magiging pamamalakad sa CAAP habang iniimbestigahan natin ito."

The Senate public services committee led by Poe earlier held an inquiry on the incident, but the senator said the panel could not yet make a conclusion.

"May mga proposal 'yung iba nating kasamahan na dapat magkaroon muna ng executive session para 'yung hindi nasabi sa hearing ay masabi ng iba na panatag sila," she said, adding that the closed-door session could be scheduled when session resumes on Jan. 23.

While the investigation is ongoing, she said she expects the work to continue in the airport's air traffic equipment to avert a repeat of the fiasco and ensure passengers' safety and convenience.

Poe said the government should also consider raising the salary of the country's air traffic controllers, whom she thanked for initiating communication with other control towers to inform them of the development at the NAIA.

"'Yung ating mga air traffic controller dapat maswelduhan nang sapat dahil nagsisialisan sila, pumupunta sa ibang bansa dahil mas mataas ang sweldo doon," Poe said.

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