Thursday, December 17, 2009

Solon’s charge vs Caticlan airport’s safety false–CAAP

THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) yesterday denied allegations made by a Marikina congressman that the Caticlan airport is a hazard to aircraft because of the removal of a perimeter fence, allowing stray animals to roam on the runway.

The accusation was made by Marikina Rep. Del de Guzman, which appeared in several newspapers, including the BusinessMirror, saying that Caap director general Ruben Ciron should be sacked for removing the perimeter fence.

De Guzman added that unidentified foreign tourists have seen the animals while inside the airplane and complained about it to airport authorities.

Ciron wrote the Marikina solon to deny the allegations, saying that it might mislead visitors to Boracay resorts. He gave de Guzman point-by-point answers to the accusations.

“Like you, I am deeply concerned with the safety and security of the flying public, but the exposé you aired in newspapers appear to be full of heat, but lacking the light of reality,” Ciron said. “It appears that whoever gave you the ‘facts’ about the Caticlan airport appears ignorant of the workings of aviation, in general, or simply biased or dishonest in telling the truth, in particular.”

According to Ciron, Ma. Mecine Torres, Caticlan airport’s officer in charge, had written to categorically deny that there have been stray animals such as “dogs, carabaos, goats and chickens wandering in the runway.”

She told Ciron that any stray animals would have been easily spotted by the Airport Crash and Rescue unit, who are on a 24-hour duty inspecting and clearing the airport.

Also, if such animals have actually roamed the runway, this would not have escaped the attention of the pilots.

So far, the Caap has not received any report of animals on the runway from any pilots that fly in and out of Caticlan, Ciron said.

The Caap chief said that foreign tourists who reported the presence of animals sounded too apocryphal to merit attention and appeared to be manufactured to mislead the public and discredit the Caap.

As to the matter of my having ordered the removal of the perimeter fence, let me again comfort you by saying that yours truly does not make unilateral decisions regarding the matter.”

He said that improvements are going on right now at the airport and the Caap has spent P32 million for its upgrading, so far. The work is not yet finished and construction is still taking place.

The removal of the perimeter fence at both ends of runway 06-24 last Nov. 30, is in compliance with an agreed-upon plan by many sectors, he said.

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