‘In gunning after Cusi, the Palace might be cutting off the nose to spite the face.’
SO-CALLED presidential "desire letters" used to apply only to nominations to the boards of government owned and controlled corporations. Hence it is rather odd for Malacañang to tell the Department of Transport and Communication that it is President Aquino’s "desire" that seven line positions in the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, which are not vacant in the first place, be filled with his nominees.
We could dismiss the Palace action as just another example of its high-handed management style. What Noynoy wants, or probably more accurately what his buddies want, they get. And niceties, not to speak of legalities, be damned.
The Palace meddling is unwarranted. The CAAP charter provides that "the Director General shall be responsible for the exercise of all powers and the discharge of all duties of the authority and shall have control over all personnel and activities of the authority."
The background to this flap is that the Palace wants Cusi out. He, however, isn’t budging. Probably some bright guy in the Palace though that surrounding him with deputies not of his own confidence might just be the aggravation that would prompt him to throw in the towel.
There are two strikes going against Cusi. First is his alleged lack of qualifications for the job and the second is his being an appointee of former President Gloria Arroyo.
Critics of Cusi says he has no business handling aviation because his background is maritime (his previous posting was as administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority). They could be right, although some people involved in the aviation sector have been giving Cusi good marks since he came on board last March.
The more grievous sin of Cuisi, however, is his being identified with the last administration. But the apparent return of politics in the running CAAP (formerly the Air Transport Office) could mean the continued downgrade of Philippine aviation and what this means to the travel and tourism sector.
Under ATO, highly technical positions were given to people with political connections while the welfare of check pilots and air traffic controllers ended up in the bottom of official priorities. This was one of the reasons the US Federal Aviation Authority downgraded the Philippines from Category 1 to Category 2 status.
In gunning after Cusi, the Palace might be cutting off the nose to spite the face.