Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Civil aviation shakeup may endanger PH safety upgrade

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) bypassed approved civil service procedures and appointed seven people to career positions at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap), it was learned Tuesday.

According to the minutes of the November 2 board meeting, a copy of which was obtained by, DoTC appointed Ramon S. Gutierrez as Deputy Director General for Administration, Napoleon L. Garcia as Deputy Director General for Operations, Wilfredo S. Borja as Assistant Director General II (Air Traffic Services),

Andrew B. Basallote as Assistant Director General II (Air Navigation Service), Edgardo L. Costes as Assistant Director General II (Aerodrome Development and Management Service), Wilson V. Mirabona as Assistant Director General I (Aerodrome Development and Management Service), and Andres B. Laurilla as Assistant Director General I (Civil Aviation Training Center).

The Caap Charter, or Republic Act 9497, requires appointees to regular “career positions” to undergo the selection process board, the appointment by the Caap director general and the final approval/confirmation of the board.

In the same board meeting, Caap Director General Alfonso Cusi, who is the appointing authority according to the law, objected to the appointment of the seven officials.

The appointments, according to sources, may jeopardize the ongoing review of the Philippine aviation system which has been classified as unsafe by international bodies such as the United States Federal Aviation Authority and the European Union, which banned Philippine carriers from operating in the bloc due to “serious safety deficiencies” in their regulation.

Earlier this year, EU officials and the president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao) Roberto Gonzalez personally visited the country to check on the progress that Caap has made to address “significant safety concerns.”

EU officials and Gonzalez stressed that Caap must be professionalized, and headed and staffed by technical professionals and not political appointees. The two organizations highlighted the need for a consistent application of laws and the strengthening of the Caap’s legal framework.

FAA’s upgrade of Philippine aviation system from category 2 to category 1 is anchored on the ongoing safety audits by EU and Icao.

Posted by Captain Sushil Kumar

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