Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pressure mounts on Cusi to quit CAAP

ALFONSO Cusi, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), is the source of problems besetting the agency because he is not a team player, MalacaƱang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Cusi has opposed the appointment of seven new officials in compliance with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) requirements to have more technical people manning the aviation agency.

The CAAP Board last Nov. 2 passed a resolution approving the appointments of Ramon Gutierrez as deputy director general for administration; Napoleon Garcia, deputy director general for operations; Wilfredo Borja, assistant director general (Air Traffic Services); Andrew Basallote, assistant director general (Air Navigation Service); Edgardo Costes, assistant director general (Aerodrome Development and Management Service); Wilson Mirabona, assistant director general (Aerodrome Development and Management Service); and Andres Laurilla, assistant director general (Civil Aviation Training Center).

Lacierda said the appointment of new officials is one of the measures intended to ensure that the Philippines gets out of the Category 2 classification.

He said Cusi also politicized the deferred arrival late last month of the ICAO audit committee that would review the compliance of Philippine airports to international aviation standards.

Lacierda said ICAO, in its letter, said its reviewers will not be able to go to Manila because of "operational reasons" but "he (Cusi) politicized it and made it appear like they have no confidence in the Philippine government."

"Al Cusi was very much against the appointment of these people. So that’s why we are rectifying the situation. And he is not helping any," he said.

He said Cusi is a minority in the CAAP board but he could not be ousted because he has a fixed term until March 2013.

Cusi was appointed by former President Gloria Arroyo last March.

"We would like to urge him that for the sake of the national government, for the sake of the Filipino people, for the sake of our airports to really move out of Category 2, that he cooperate with the vast majority of the Board of Directors to ensure that we are taken out of Category 2," Lacierda said.

The CAAP was created by R.A. 9497 on March 23, 2008 in answer to a January 2008 downgrade from Category 1 to Category 2 by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) based on its International Aviation Safety Audit (IASA) in November 2007.

FAA said "the Philippines was no longer overseeing the safety of its airlines in accordance with international standards and practices."

Cusi denied he is not a team player even as he insisted that the administration violated the law in appointing seven new CAAP directors.

He said the CAAP guidelines for the selection of officials provides that holdover permanent employees should first be considered, followed by holdover temporary employees, then holdover casuals followed by holdover contractual employees and lastly, non-CAAP employee applicants.

He said the seven career positions are career "plantilla" positions being occupied by CAAP holdover employees in an OIC capacity, because they are still undergoing selection process as defined by the law.

Cusi said he tried to explain in writing to the CAAP board prior to the arrival of the ICAO Validation Mission that it is not safe to shake the organization during times of audit.

"The present unclear political announcements of a change in senior management could create, in ICAO’s opinion, an indeterminable future of professional processes within CAAP," he said. – Regina Bengco

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