Airports NewsGovernance NewsInfrastructure NewsPart 3 News: Seven Winning SectorsPart 4 News: General Business Environment

CAAP Not ISO-Certified; Glitch Could Happen Again

Delon Porcalla | January 11, 2023


ISO or the International Organization for Standardization is an independent, non-governmental, international organization that develops standards to ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of products, services and systems.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) was forced to admit before officials and members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Jan. 10, that the country’s air traffic management agency is not yet up to international standards.

CAAP Director General Manuel Antonio Tamayo admitted before the House committee on transportation headed by Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop that the agency responsible for prescribing rules and regulations for all aircrafts is “not ISO-certified.”

“Not yet, your honor, but it is ongoing. We will work on this. That will be our priority. We will definitely work on getting this ISO certification,” the CAAP chief told Bulacan Rep. Salvador Pleyto during Tuesday’s hearing.

ISO or the International Organization for Standardization is an independent, non-governmental, international organization that develops standards to ensure the quality, safety and efficiency of products, services and systems. Becoming ISO-certified means a private entity or government office had complied with global standards.

Tamayo clarified, on the other hand, that CAAP was ranked Category 1 by the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and that Philippines is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

“Under ICAO, we have improved our rating by at least two points,” he said.

The CAAP chief also told Pleyto that ICAO had in fact inquired about the New Year airport disruption. “They just want to have the background with this incident and we complied,” said Tamayo, who was undersecretary for the Department of Transportation’s aviation and airports during the previous Duterte administration.

At the same time, CAAP officials and even Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista could not give assurance to lawmakers that the air traffic mess will not be repeated in the future, saying the issue is still undergoing internal and external investigation.

“Until now, and this is very unfortunate, CAAP still doesn’t know the root cause of what really transpired. This is really a big problem because this might just happen again,” Rep. Bonifacio Bosita of party-list 1-Rider lamented.

UPS procured

CAAP said it did an emergency procurement of two additional uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units to prevent a repeat of the New Year’s Day shutdown of the air traffic management system.

This was questioned by lawmakers after Tamayo and CAAP Air Traffic Service OIC chief Arnold Balucating admitted that the shutdown was not really caused by the UPS but by the malfunctioning of the circuit breaker.

Tamayo answered that while their technical experts were doing regular maintenance of the system, CAAP was not allowed to open the circuit breaker for inspection. But if CAAP detects a defect on the circuit breaker, it is authorized to remove or replace it to resume airport operations.

The CAAP chief added that they are already waiting for the results of the forensic investigation being done by various agencies, including the Department of Transportation and Department of Information and Communications Technology to determine the root causes of the technical glitches.

For his part, Civil Aviation Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said they have yet to determine the financial compensation or any form of remuneration to be given to more than 50,000 passengers affected by the airspace shutdown as investigations are not yet finished.

On the part of the airlines, he pointed out that it is a “force majeure” or act of God so they are not responsible, according to the Airport Passengers Bill of Rights provision on compensation.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez asked Tamayo to take a leave of absence pending the probe.

“I think that Tamayo should take a leave of absence … This is a situation where those responsible should not be there in office,” Rodriguez said.

“My goodness, we sacrifice the (passengers) and no one takes responsibility … Possible violators of gross negligence should not be present in those investigations,” he added.

For his part, Tamayo said in an ambush interview that he is willing to heed Rodriguez’s suggestion if they feel that he will be “influencing the investigation.”

“I am open to that … (But) I feel that I’m so new in CAAP. As far as I am concerned, we do the best as far as managing people is concerned and managing the resources of CAAP is concerned,” said Tamayo, who was appointed head of CAAP in November 2022.


Meanwhile, the CAAP plans to complete its reorganization within the first quarter of the year with the goal of securing increased salaries for its personnel tasked to oversee air traffic.

“The reorganization as far as CAAP is concerned is ongoing and this reorganization is a priority for us,” Tamayo said. “The previous CAAP director general was able to get Willis Towers Watsons to study the reorganization ideal for CAAP. As for us, we would like to have this implemented hopefully within this quarter,” he added.

Through the reorganization, CAAP expects to erase redundant positions and raise the pay of its talents who are exiting the country for improved benefits abroad. Tamayo asked the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) to review the salary grade of air traffic controllers.

CAAP assistant director general Marlene Singson said air traffic officers are abandoning CAAP for the Middle East, where they are offered up to eight times the basic salary they receive here.

As an example, Singson said a starting air traffic personnel can get a monthly pay of P380,000 in Dubai, while in the Philippines they are classified under Salary Grade 20 for P51,155.

“That is the problem: We are not hiring our air traffic controllers, so our air traffic controllers are being pirated abroad. We are having issues because of pay and so on. In terms of qualification, we can train Filipinos [and] make them excellent in this field, but the problem is the pay that we offer them,” Tamayo said.

GCG commissioner Gideon Mortel, in response, said the GCG would consider the pay issue in the evaluation it is conducting on the operations of CAAP as a state-owned firm. He added the GCG would look at every means to raise the efficiency of CAAP as the air traffic monitor. – With Elijah Felice Rosales, Sheila Crisostomo