Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Philippines - Albay solon wants immediate probe on CAAP ‘militarization’

A legislator is seeking a congressional inquiry into the “militarization” of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) due to a big number of retired military officials and personnel allegedly hired as consultants by the agency.
In House Resolution 1181, Nacionalista Party Rep. Al Francis Bichara of Albay warned the country might not regain Category 1 status from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) if the CAAP could not address the organizational problem and “demoralization” among its rank and file.
The demoralization, Bichara said, jeopardizes efforts by the Philippine government to pass the FAA audit slated at the end of the year. “Confounding the situation is the hiring by the agency of several retired military personnel as consultants. This has resulted in demoralization of the CAAP employees,” Bichara said.

Bichara said the presence of several retired military personnel at the CAAP has created an impression that it is under “militarization.” He said the failure of the agency to approve the staffing pattern and plantilla positions has made it difficult for management to recruit and hire qualified technical civil-aviation personnel. “The delay in the approval of the staffing pattern and plantilla positions had caused widespread unrest at the agency,” Bichara said. “If CAAP management will fail to solve the problem, there is a strong possibility that it will not be able to comply with the proscription of the FAA for it to regain its Category 1 status,” he added.
Bichara said Republic Act 9497 establishes the CAAP principally to address the deficiencies of the Air Transportation Office, its predecessor.
Bichara said the main objective of the measure is to carry out the comprehensive reorganization of the aviation sector to include training of technical personnel, appointing inspectors and pilots, hiring new qualified officials and computerization of some departments, especially the documents pertaining to issuances or requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization

THE HOUSE of Representatives has been asked to probe retired military appointees in the newly created civil aviation authority in light of complaints among the regulator’s employees.
House Resolution (HR) 1181, filed by Albay Rep. Al Francis C. Bichara (2nd district), directed the committee on good government to probe the management and operation of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
In a statement yesterday, Mr. Bichara said he sought the probe in response to a letter sent to the House on June 2 signed by 63 officials and employees from CAAP’s flight standards inspectorate service department.
CAAP officials were unavailable for comment.
"According to the complainants, CAAP chief and former Air Force Gen. Ruben Ciron brought along some of his trusted people, friends and military classmates to join him in the CAAP," he said in a separate telephone interview.

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