Senate body to begin air traffic fiasco probe on Jan. 12

Photo courtesy: CAAP MIAA

The Senate Committee on Public Services will start on Jan. 12 the inquiry on the New Year air traffic mess that affected more than 56,000 passengers, Senator Grace Poe announced Wednesday.

Poe, chair of the Public Services committee, said the committee could still hold inquiries even during the break.

However, she said the committee could not immediately convene and hold the investigation since it wants to give the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Department of Transportation (DOTR) ample time to normalize airport operations before they appear to the body.

“We can conduct hearings even during the break. I intend to call for a hearing on Thursday, Jan. 12, allowing CAAP & DOTR to normalize airport operations before conducting a hearing. By that time, key executives should not have an excuse not to attend,” Poe said.

Aside from Poe, other senators filed resolutions seeking to thoroughly investigate the NAIA fiasco to determine who were liable for the incident and to avoid such occurrence in the future that could jeopardize national security.

Meanwhile, Senator Nancy Binay expressed apprehension over the idea of privatizing the national aviation system, saying it is critical to national security concerns.

“Non-negotiable yan (This is non-negotiable), otherwise that means reducing the government’s involvement and control of our airspace,” Binay said.

She clarified, however, that she is open to some proposals to privatize the commercial operations within the airport complex.

“We welcome privatization in terms of commercial operations within the airport complex, but we should not be entertaining private handling of air traffic because it impairs national security,” she added.

Senator JV Ejercito earlier hinted that the privatization of NAIA would not do any good to the country, similar to other public utilities that were privatized during the past administrations.

Ejercito cited the National Power Corporation plants, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, National Steel Corporation, and Fort Bonifacio which were already privatized but brought no benefit to the country.

“Vital utilities should be controlled by the government. The NAIA glitch should be an eye-opener that just like that, the air traffic was paralyzed,” Ejercito said. (PNA)