CAAP employees protest scrapping of P1B in benefits | Inquirer News

CAAP employees protest scrapping of P1B in benefits

/ 07:44 PM June 28, 2015

After helping Philippine aviation achieve international standards, employees of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are up in arms over the government’s move to take back nearly P1 billion in benefits from them.

This after the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Governance Commission on Goverment-owned and Controlled corporations (GCG) branded as illegal and disallowed the salary increases and bonuses already given to them since 2012.

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“If this stands, what will stop our technical people from working abroad?” Valiant Sucion, air traffic management officer and president of the CAAP employees union, told reporters in an interview over the weekend.

Sucion revealed that the exodus of employees in the air traffic service has caused a shortage of manpower and shortfall in expertise in the country.   Only 700 persons handle the tasks of over 1,000 people, according to Sucion.

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The  COA and the GCG disapproved the salary structure for 1,775 technical positions approved and implemented by the CAAP board since 2012 and six months of bonuses given to nearly 4,000 employees of the aviation regulating body, Sucion said.

Salary increases from P10,000 to P14,000 have been given since October, 2012 while the six months of bonuses were given separately in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Sucion explained that the benefits were given to the CAAP personnel to boost morale and accomplish President Benigno Aquino III’s marching orders to reinstate and maintain the country’s category 1 rating from the Federal Aviation Administration; to remove the country from the International Civil Aviation Organization’s significant safety concerns; and to work towards the lifting of the ban by the European Union on Philippine air carriers.

“We at the CAAP have achieved all of this,” Sucion said, referring to what they called the “triple whammy” in aviation, “And yet the GCG and the COA are disallowing our benefits because they are claiming the salary increase and bonuses have no legal basis although they have been approved by the CAAP board,” Sucion lamented.

“The present management at the CAAP really takes care of its people and it is only under the present director general (William Hotchkiss III) that the triple whammy, which has given headaches to so many other previous administrations, was resolved,” he pointed out.

“He (Hotchkiss) wants to boost and sustain the employees’ morale by giving incentives but these are being disallowed by the COA and the GCG,” Sucion said.

He pointed out that the CAAP management recently wrote and appealed their case to the Office of the President but it never reached Mr. Aquino and was reverted for review by the GCG, which disapproved the CAAP salary structure system and bonuses in 2014.

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Sucion said reason cited by the GCG for the disapproval was CAAP’s failure to comply with requirements particularly: the seal of transparency on its website; the citizen’s charter under the Anti-Red Tape Act; the enforcement of the Strategic Performance Management System; and unliquidated cash advances which must be at zero as much as possible.

“During the time CAAP was asked for these requirements, CAAP was busy complying with international audits by the FAA and the ICAO,” he said.

“They (GCG and COA) are comparing us with other GOCCs but CAAP is very unique. We have compliances with the international community that take years to achieve and sustain,” Sucion explained, adding that manpower at the agency should be sustained, “otherwise our own technical experts will work and use their knowledge abroad.”

The Qatari aviation service is currently filled by Filipinos who came from CAAP, according to Sucion. “They are now high ranking officers there. So our expertise is benefitting another country.”

He said technical persons would naturally look for greener pastures abroad where pay has been much more commensurate to their expertise. “In the air traffic service alone, there is a big shortage in personnel. We need 1,064 people and we number just almost 700, some are job order workers,” Sucion pointed out.

In fact, he told reporters, the ICAO has been requiring an internationally competitive compensation package in aviation regulating bodies. This, he said, has acknowledged that the demoralization in the air traffic and the flight safety inspectorate services could ultimately affect flights.

“It will hit us hard if these benefits are taken away from us,” Sucion stressed. SFM

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TAGS: air traffic management officers, air traffic service, Aviation, aviation services, benefits, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Commission On Audit, compensation, GCG, Governance Commission on Goverment-owned and Controlled corporations, government workers, News, pay, Valiant Sucion
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