Top CAAP officials told to go on leave
MANILA, Philippines — Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has called on top officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to file a leave of absence to allow for an independent investigation of the New Year’s Day technical glitch that disrupted over 300 flights and stranded 65,000 passengers.
“It cannot be force majeure. This is not an act of God… This is an act of men, men of incompetence and men of gross negligence,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday afternoon as he urged CAAP officials led by Director General Manuel Antonio Tamayo to go on leave.
“We cannot have the responsible official stay there while there is an investigation,” he said, adding: “We don’t want a whitewash. We want a real investigation where we set aside temporarily those who are managing the air transport systems.”
Addressing Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista who was among those present at a briefing on the airport fiasco being conducted for the House transportation panel, Rodriguez asked him to make sure that Tamayo would go on leave “until there will be a definitive report of the investigation.”
Bautista responded by saying that CAAP was conducting a fact-finding investigation on the power outage that caused its air traffic management system to go offline on Jan. 1, resulting in the shutdown of the country’s airspace.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) was also “finding ways and solutions” to address “recurring” transportation issues in the country following the Jan. 1 incident, he added.
Bautista said that multiple agencies were conducting an investigation to determine the source of the glitch that caused the air traffic navigation system to go offline.
“We sincerely apologize to all those affected by the technical glitch, which disrupted hundreds of flights and brought inconvenience to thousands of passengers, not just at Naia (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), but other major airports as well,” he said.
He assured lawmakers that the DOTr was “committed [to] coming up with permanent solutions [to] the recurring transport problems, especially issues affecting the country’s air traffic navigation system.”
Open to go on leave
In an interview with House reporters after the briefing, Tamayo said he was “open” to going on leave if lawmakers feel that he “will be influencing the investigation.”
“If it is necessary, I will. I’m open to that. It’s being investigated right now. So if I will be a hindrance, I’m willing to go on a leave of absence. If there will be any suspicion at all, if they feel that I’ll be influencing the investigation, I’m open to that,” Tamayo said.
However, the CAAP director general said he did not think that the move was necessary for now.
“I don’t think I need to go on a leave of absence as of this time. Because I have to assist in the fact finding and so on… As far as evidence, investigations, we are very open,” Tamayo said.