Law Creating Civil Aviation Authority Signed
Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING
In the hopes the country's civil aviation system would meet world standards, President Arroyo yesterday signed into law Republic Act 9497 which creates a fiscally autonomous Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
At the signing ceremony in Malacanang, the President said the new law, known as Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, would upgrade safety and security of air transport services as well as boost tourism industry and business activities in the country.
The President thanked the two chambers of Congress for the passage of the new law less than two months after US regulators downgraded the Philippines as an unsafe destination.
"Magandang tanda ito para sa bayan at sa mundo na patuloy ang pamahalaan sa paglilingkod sa tao at sa pagsusulong ng kinakailangang reporma tungo sa mas mahusay na pamamahala," she said.
"Salamat sa bagong batas na lilikha ng CAAP, magiging mas ligtas ang mga biyahe sa eroplano, at mawawalan ng sagabal sa paglago ng turismo at investment na lumilikha ng daan-daang libong trabaho para sa bayan, o milyon milyon pa nga," she added.
Under the new law, the CAAP will serve as an independent regulatory agency with quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers that will maintain and promote civil aviation in the country, particularly on air safety and security.
The CAAP, attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications, will also enjoy financial autonomy where all money collected would be spent on improvement of facilities and hire competent technical personnel as well as the power to administratively adjudicate civil aviation-related cases.
The new aviation regulatory office will replace the Air Transportation Office (ATO), which does not meet the International Civil Aviation Organization's standards.
Elated by the passage of the new law, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita expressed confidence that the US FAA will upgrade the country's aviation safety ratings.
"With the passage of this law, we are confident that the US FAA can have a review of our system and come up with a better rating for civil aviation in the Philippines," Ermita said.
Last January, the US aviation authorities found the Philippines to be an unsafe port of origin, downgrading the country's aviation safety assessment from Category 1 to Category 2 due to non-compliance to international standards.
To ensure enforcement of minimum standards, the US agency wants the Philippines to have a new aviation law, train technical personnel, organize a computerized aviation database, and install modern equipment for aviation safety.
Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said they intend to invite FAA officials in June to reevaluate the country's air safety system, citing the reforms in the industry.
"Hopefully we can go back to Category 1," Mendoza said. …