Hontiveros wants Naia air traffic system private contractor probed
MANILA, Philippines — The private contractor in charge of the air traffic control system at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) should be investigated after it went down on New Year’s Day.
An electrical failure had disabled the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM), prompting Senator Risa Hontiveros to call for an inquiry.
The system failure affected at least 56,000 people, and Hontiveros sponsored Senate Resolution No. 401, directing the appropriate Senate panel to examine the incident.
“It is imperative to also probe who the private contractor of the CNS/ATM is, whether there was a violation of the performance guarantee as may possibly be seen through an examination of documents from the Commission on Audit in the past years, and investigate the brewing allegations of funding delays and possible corruption in the establishment of the CNS/ATM system, as well as the long interval between the initial negotiations in February 2010 and the inauguration in 2018, and how it may have impacted on air control operations,” her resolution read.
Hontiveros also pointed out that the government did not have “concrete plans” to improve the system despite knowing that it is already outdated.
“What is mind-boggling is that despite the fact that government officials had known that the outdated air control system of the Philippines main gateway to the world was in danger of conking out any time and this issue was supposedly already raised at a Cabinet meeting, no concrete plans had been made for upgrade or improvement,” she said.
The opposition senator likewise noted other allegations related to the airport fiasco, such as the supposed P13-billion fund diversion for system backup to cosmetic projects of then President Rodrigo Duterte, negligence in the maintenance and upkeep of equipment, and potential human error.
Senator JV Ejercito likewise lodged a separate resolution on the same issue on Wednesday.
Ejercito’s Senate Resolution No. 400 directs the Senate Committee on Public Services, chaired by Senator Grace Poe, to look into the matter.
The senator lamented the impacts that the technical glitch brought.
“It is alarming and disturbing that this kind of glitch – loss of communication, radio, radar and internet access, can happen in the country’s main airport, affecting not only the safety of airline passengers but also of businesses, tourism, national security and the country’s image to the world,” Ejercito stated in his resolution.
“It is imperative to inquire into the state and integrity of the country’s Air Traffic Management System for us to be appraised of the need to upgrade and modernize the system in order to ensure that similar incidents will be averted,” he added.
Aside from Hontiveros and Ejercito, three other senators have filed separate resolutions seeking an inquiry on the mess.
Poe said that her committee is planning to launch the investigation on the matter on January 12.
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