Daniel A. Dimagiba, former acting director of the abolished Aviation Transportation Office, has been suspended from his post as deputy director-general for operations pending results of the probe.
A 3-man special hearing and adjudication board headed by Deputy Director for Administration Eduardo E. Kapunan Jr. with members Andrew B. Basallote, Director for Air Navigation Service, and Wilfredo S. Borja, Director for Air Traffic Service, will do the investigating.
“The creation of the board is to ensure an impartial hearing and adjudication of Dimagiba and to make sure that his right to due process is not violated,” said Ciron.
Dimagiba is accused of having issued an Air Carrier Operating Certificate to Sky Aviation Services, Inc. (SASI) on August 1 last year; and this apparently irregular certificate drew the attention of the Australian aviation oversight authority and the European Union Air Safety Committee, which were worried about its provenance and safety concerns that go with it.
He allegedly issued the certificate despite the absence of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Civil Aeronautics Board or a Temporary Operating Permit, a mandatory requirement.
With the unauthorized certificate, SASI used its two aircraft, RP-C8019 and RP-C8020, to engage in commercial operations, in direct contravention of the Certificates of Registration of the aircraft that were registered for general aviation purposes only.
On February 5, Ciron ordered Dimagiba to explain in writing his actions but Dimagiba replied with only a copy of his “Letter of Apology” to Daniel Calleja, Director-General for Energy and Transport of the European Commission, dated February 10.
Dimagiba claimed he honestly thought it was within the scope of his authority to issue such certificates while the CAAP was then just newly organized, and the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 9497 creating the CAAP was still being prepared.
Among the charges against Dimagiba are: allegedly collecting an unauthorized P1,500 from each foreign student before giving them flight-student certificates; intervening improperly for “organic pilots” Capt. Jayfred Basawil and Capt. Saturnino dela Cruz by asking Capt. Andrew Florentino and Capt. Ismael Lapus Jr., who are Flight Operations Inspectors, to change the failing grades of the duo; and unauthorized correspondence with and misrepresenting the CAAP before foreign authorities and international organizations.