Aviation body under fire

CAAP warned on issuing invalid licenses to pilots

January 23, 2010

By Rainier Allan Ronda

MANILA, Philippines - The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is issuing invalid licenses for pilots and aircraft mechanics, as well as certificates of registration and air worthiness for aircraft as a result of the appointment of unqualified officers into key technical positions.

Cesar Lucero, vice president of the CAAP Employees Union, warned that the issuance of the invalid licenses and certificates by the CAAP could pose serious problems to aviation firms in times of air mishaps especially when it comes to claiming insurance. “Insurance companies could refuse to honor claims by questioning the licenses and certificates of concerned pilots and airlines,” Lucero told The Star.

Lucero said that the Flight Standards and Inspectorate Service (FSIS), the main regulatory arm of CAAP, was in effect issuing invalid licenses and certificates due to ultra vires acts and illegal appointments of consultants and co-terminus employees into highly-technical positions, who have recently signed the licenses and certificates issued by the agency. He said that under RA 9497, otherwise known as the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, which created CAAP, the power to issue airman licenses and aviation related certificates exclusively belongs to the Director Generals alone.

Since 2008, the CAAP-EU has observed that the FSIS director appointed by CAAP director-general Ruben Ciron, Eduardo Batac, have been issuing and signing licenses and certificates in direct violation of RA 9497. “The signing of the pilot and aircraft mechanic licenses as well as certificates of registration and air worthiness could not be delegated by Ciron to Batac,” Lucero said.

Illegal

“The acts of the FSIS are what can be called ultra vires and illegal, in effect rendering their issued licenses and certificates null and void,” Lucero said.

Ciron, for his part, denied the allegations of the CAAP-EU. “There is no question on the validity of the licenses and the certificates,” Ciron told The Star in an interview yesterday at the ground breaking rites of the P2.5 billion Caticlan airport upgrade project at the Caticlan airport. Ciron said that Batac, as FSIS director, merely endor-ses the licenses for him to sign for his approval. Ciron said that Batac also had the qualification for the FSIS top position. “I’m the one who signs the licenses,”Ciron said.

Batac, a retired officer of the Philippine Air Force like Ciron, it was learned, was one of the head executive assistants hired by Ciron into the CAAP, with the post being a “co-terminus” appointment which means that the appointment expires upon the end of the appointing official’s tenure.

Batac’s deputy, Romeo Alamillo, also a retired military general, was hired into the CAAP by Ciron as a consultant.

Lucero stressed that both Batac and Alamillo have no civil aviation management experience or expertise.

The CAAP-EU, Lucero said, noted that under existing laws and regulations, both Batac and Alamillo are prohibited to hold positions exercising control and supervision over regular employees.

It will be recalled that the CAAP-EU is questioning the appointment by Ciron of retired military officers with no civil aviation management expertise into the CAAP since its creation in late 2008.

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