Friday, March 11, 2011

Jinggoy wants CAAP probed for corruption

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) should be probed amid allegations of corruption within the agency, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada said Tuesday.

“I think the time has come for the Senate to look into the situation at the CAAP and whether the law creating it needs further refinement or whether those mandated to implement it are just bungling their jobs," Estrada said in a statement on Tuesday.

Estrada, the son of ousted President Joseph Estrada, said there were reports that a syndicate within the CAAP and the lax implementation of the law by its officials have allowed the proliferation of fake pilot licenses.

“What is also bothering me is the possibility that some foreign nationals, especially those from the Middle East and licensed by the CAAP as pilots, would later turn out to be members of terrorist groups as what happened before," he said.

The senator cited Mohamed Atta, who reportedly took flying lessons in the Philippines in 1999 and later on took part in the September 9, 2001 World Trade Center attack in the United States.

“These allegations were largely from the previous administration, and we are now trying to correct it," Napoleon Garcia, CAAP deputy executive director and officer in charge told GMA News Online over the phone.

Garcia, who was designated OIC by the Department of Transportation and Communications, said he and the current batch of CAAP officials led by executive director Ramon Gutierrez, who is now in Europe for a conference, were appointed by MalacaƱang only last January.

Taking people off sensitive positions

“With these allegations, we are now trying to remove people from sensitive positions. ‘Yung may mga (Those with) complaints," he said.

He said the head of the Licensing and Certification Department had already been replaced.

“But the other complaints surrounding the disappearance of millions of pesos were allegations about the [past CAAP] administration," Garcia said.

The CAAP was created by Republic Act No. 9497 in 2008, specifically to bring the Philippines on track with international aviation safety standards and certified by the Federal Aviation Authority of the United States and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Still, the Philippine remains far from getting certified because of non-compliance with global best practices and safety regulations, Estrada said. "Almost two years after the creation of the CAAP, our situation is basically the same."

Neha Jain

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