Tourism chief seeks seat in aviation body


CEBU CITY, Philippines – Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” Durano will ask legislators to include the tourism department as a member in the proposed Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the Philippines.

This will require a provision in pending bills in Congress.

Durano expressed dismay after he found out that the Department of Tourism is not a member of the CAA board.

“The stake of tourism in civil aviation is very obvious. It is not debatable. As much as we try, nalimtan ang atong membership (our membership was forgotten),” Durano told reporters.

“Those placed (to sit in the board) are members of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government),” he said.

Durano, however, assured the tourism sector that he would ask Senator Richard Gordon and Representative Edgardo Chato (Bohol 1st district) to “remedy the situation.”

Gordon is chairperson of the Senate committee on tourism, while Chato is the chairman of the House committee on tourism.

Membership in the CAA board will ensure that concerns of the tourism sector will be immediately recognized and addressed, Durano said.

Last month, the Senate approved on third reading House Bill 3156 or the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2008, which amends the charter of the Air Transportation Office.

The bill also enables the agency to comply with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

The CAA will be an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communication and will work closely with the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

According to the bill, CAAP will oversee the technical and safety aspects of civil aviation paying particular attention on the areas of aircraft worthiness and registration, aerodome construction and development, aircraft accident investigation, air navigation service and air traffic service.

CAB will take charge of the industry’s economics such as setting of air fare rates and charges, establishment of destinations and routes, and determining flight frequencies among others.

In July 2007, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducted an international aviation safety assessment which resulted to the downgrading of the country’s civil aviation system from Category 1 to Category 2.

According to the FAA, the Philippines is one of the 21 countries which failed to “provide safety oversight of its air carrier operators in accordance with the minimum safety oversight standards established by the ICAO.”

In Cebu, Durano urged airport officials to expand the Mactan International Airport to prepare for more passenger traffic.

In 2007, a total of 748,000 tourists visited Cebu, making it as the number one tourist destination in the Philippines.