In a letter signed by 63 CAAP officials and employees, copies of which were sent to CSC, DBM and even Congress, CAAP Director General Ruben Ciron was alleged to have “brought along some of his trusted people, friends and military classmates to join him in the CAAP.”
“They were hired as consultants. To date, we have about more or less 100 consultants, but what is bizarre if the CSC is not aware of this, [is that] some of these consultants were placed in regular positions supervising over regular and career personnel,” the letter said.
The complainants said the acts of Ciron, a former Air Force general reportedly close to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, violated CSC Memorandum Circular 26, series of 1997 “prohibiting the designation of consultants, contractual and noncareer employees to positions exercising control or supervision over regular and career personnel.”
While the 63 signatories were from the agency’s Flight Standards Inspectorate Service (FSIS), other divisions in the CAAP were similarly unhappy on how Ciron and his consultants were running the agency.
In a separate position paper, CAAP insiders complained that agency officials have hired many who “have no technical expertise.”
They claimed that many functions are “redundant of that of regular employees.”
They said they will bring the matter to higher authorities, including the “anomalous and highly controversial transfer of P874 million” from the Land Bank of the Philippines to United Coconut Planters Bank, a private bank.
“Granting that it was authorized by the CAAP board of directors, why was the board resolution which authorizes the director general and other CAAP officers to sign and operate a CAAP bank account was signed by proxies not by the regular or principal members of the Board who are the secretaries of various departments such as the Deparments of Labor and Employment, of Finance, of Foreign Affairs, of Justice, of the Interior and Local Government and of Transportation and Communication?” the employees asked.
The employees further claimed that only Ciron and the acting corporate treasurer, who is also his chief of staff, have complete control over these funds.
On May 19, they said Ciron took a P500,000 cash advance “with the information that it has been approved by the Board.”
After the Holy Week, on the other hand, CAAP chief of staff Ronaldo Manlipig reimbursed P59,000 from the CAAP funds covering expenses incurred during official functions by Ciron’s office.
The receipts submitted by Manlapig, however, indicated that most of the expenditures were made on April 11 during an outing at the Eagle Point resort in Mabini, Batangas.
Ciron replied that when he was appointed in July 2008, there were already 71 consultants under Ariel Dimagiba as acting Air Transporation Office director. They were occupying various position including check pilots, cabin crew examiners, librarians, airworthiness inspectors, cardiologists, eye-ear-nose and throat specialists, radiologists and medical review board officers.
“Under my leadership, I have less than that number, and I made sure that we got only local and international aviation industry professionals to assist in the final transition and restructuring of the CAAP,” Ciron said.
He said these positions were filled after a formal selection process was undertaken, involving ATO holdover personnel and newly appointed ones sitting as members of the selection committee.
Eventually, those chosen were formally presented and approved by the CAAP Board of Directors, Ciron said.
He said that the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded the ATO from category 1 to category 2 owing to the lack of qualified technical personnel. This is reflected by the 51 percent empty positions of the then ATO’s Aviation Safety Division, indicating that there were no takers for the vacant posts.
“Given this situation, and adhering to the [International Civil Aviation Administration] ICAO’s minimum requirements, there is no other recourse but to source from the Air Force which is about the only sources of highly technical men.” Ciron said in reply to criticisms that he hired mostly military men.
He added that many retired military men have pursued second careers in the private sector and corporate entities but they accepted very low consultancy fees despite their higher educational background and diverse technical expertise.
Ciron said that chief of staff Ronald Manlipig, who is also the current treasurer, would answer the allegations about the alleged illegal disbursement once he returned from a Senate budget hearing.