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Thursday, November 11, 2010

CAAP - Cusi outflanked as all his top aviation officials replaced

THE Philippine Transport Department has dislodged seven aviation officials to give way to appointees with “more experience and expertise,” an official told the Manila Standard Wednesday.

The seven had been placed on floating status and would have to wait for their new designations, Transport Undersecretary Dante Velasco said.

“As career officials, they can choose to stay or leave the agency,” Velasco said in a phone interview.

He said the Transport Department was also planning to appoint a new director of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to replace Alfonso Cusi, “But we are still studying that from a legal standpoint.”

Cusi refused to comment on the new appointments, but said he had already written the Transport Department requesting it to follow the procedure for career positions that should have security of tenure.

The new officials of the Civil Aviation Authority who replaced the seven took their oath Wednesday last week, he said.

He confirmed the appointment of the following officials:

• Ramon Gutierrez as deputy director general for Administration

• Napoleon Garcia as deputy director general for Operations

• Wilfredo Borja as assistant director general II for Air Traffic Services

• Andrew Basallote as assistant director general II for Air Navigation Service

• Edgardo Costes as assistant director general II for Aerodrome Development and Management Service

• Wilson Mirabona as assistant director general I for Aerodrome Development and Management Service

• Andres Laurilla as assistant director general I for the Civil Aviation Training Center.

“We just got the right people. The new government needs the right people to get things done,” Velasco said, adding that with their oath-taking on Wednesday, the appointments were considered “final” and were approved by the majority of the Civil Aviation board.

Velasco said the seven aviation officials who were replaced were appointed by the Arroyo administration, but they lacked the skills to upgrade the aviation sector.

“We need to make up for lack of aviation experience and expertise of the people now leaving the CAAP and [for the Philippines] to get back the Category 1 status,” Velasco said.

He said officials of the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization had ordered the Philippines to professionalize the CAAP and appoint officials based on their technical expertise.

“We need to do that to get back the Category 1 status and lift the EU ban on our carriers,” Velasco said.

In 2007 the US Federal Aviation Administration placed the Philippines on a list of 21 countries on Category 2 from Category 1 “for failure to provide safety oversight of its air-carrier operators in accordance with the safety-oversight standards set by the International Civil Aviation Authority.”

The Philippines’ aviation facilities still failed in the second audit conducted bythe FAA last year, so those stayed under Category 2 in aviation safety standards.

“The [new officials] came from the private entities involved in aviation,” Velasco said.

“We are confident that with the new composition of the CAAP, we can pass the FAA audit.”

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