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Runway squatter on 13

Spy Bits received information from a US source about a man reportedly living in a drainage pipe located underneath Runway 13/31 (see photo) at the Manila Domestic Airport or T4. Several pilots affirm the man’s presence in the drainpipe, in fact even seeing him cook in the middle of the day. Why the man’s presence has been unnoticed by airport authorities or personnel – or why this can happen at all in a major airport like T4 is really the big question.

Obviously the man’s “residence” could pose safety problems down the line for himself and the riding public. Late last year, local carriers experienced problems because of a strike – a bird strike, that is – that caused the cancellation of several flights from Manila to local destinations and vice versa. Stray birds running along the domestic and international runways have also created a major safety concern for pilots because of the potential damage these birds can cause to aircraft jet engines with very high potential risks for the safety of passengers.

The strange thing is that airport authorities of the Manila International Airport (MIAA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) decided to dispatch red tail predator hawks along runways 13/31 and 06/24 to scare off the birds. Aside from hawks, there is also a plan to buy a P45-million “acoustic equipment” with powerful speakers to frighten the birds away from the runways.  This multimillion peso sound device is supposed to have been installed last month – but the last we heard about this “bird brained” idea is that MIAA is still looking for a supplier/provider for the “remote-controlled and monitored air navigation hazard prevention system.” In simple terms, a technological scarecrow with loud speakers.

At any rate, the drainage dweller, the stray birds and even the presence of squatters near the airport are some of the remaining “obstacles” that must be cleared before the Category 1 rating is finally restored by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The good news is – the recent safety audit from the International Civil Aviation Organization or ICAO is a positive development, with the Philippines removed from the list of countries with unresolved “Significant Safety Concerns” with the ICAO audit team citing the corrective measures implemented by the country’s aviation authorities. While the improvements have more to do with procedural and certification issues – this is just one step towards eventually getting that much-awaited Category 1 upgrade from US authorities.

MRT DevCo wins advertising dispute

After a three-year legal battle against outdoor advertising company Trackworks (owned by advertising man Lito de Joya in partnership with DDB’s Gil Chua) involving advertising rights in the EDSA-MRT 3 rail system, the group of Bob Sobrepeña secured a decision from the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. (PDRCI) in its favor. In its 57-page “final and executory” decision, PDRCI ordered Trackworks to pay over P1.3 billion to Sobrepeña’s Metro Rail Transit Development Corp. (MRT-DevCo) in damages. The amount covers Trackwork’s unpaid obligations of over P700 million to MRT-DevCo as well as an estimated P579 million representing lost advertising revenues.

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PDRCI, the arbitral tribunal mutually constituted by the opposing parties, also ruled as “valid and enforceable” the Sobrepeña group’s decision in 2009 to pre-terminate its contract with the advertising company, first entered into in 1998 and renewed in 2005, apparently because Trackworks has been negligent in its payments since 2006. This certainly puts a definitive end to the advertising firm’s right to any revenues generated from the EDSA-MRT 3 system.

The arbitration body also declared Trackworks guilty of deliberate forum shopping, citing the company’s civil suit filed with the Makati and Pasig Regional Trial Courts against MRT-DevCo and several officials of the DOTC since the issues were the same as the ones that were already pending before the PDRCI. Much earlier, the Makati RTC had issued a writ of mandamus ordering DOTC officials to issue permits in Trackworks’ favor pending the result from the arbitration body. With the PDRCI decision however, the Makati RTC ruling has been rendered “moot and academic,” observers noted. The big question: When will Trackworks pay this humongous obligation?

Chinese hackers target Australian bank

A report by the Australian Financial Review disclosed that Chinese hackers have been sending “malicious emails” or malware to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s computer networks since 2011 apparently to collect sensitive information pertaining to G20 negotiations. The malware were not detected by the Bank’s anti-virus scanners because these came in the form of emails directing the recipient to an Internet URL (uniform resource locator) link to a file containing a Trojan or a concealed program.

A recent report from American Security firm Mandiant alleged that a shadowy army unit inside a Chinese People’s Liberation Army base located in the outskirts of Shanghai is being maintained precisely to conduct cyber spying against US, Canadian and apparently, Australian government sites. The Chinese government of course has denied the existence of this alleged shadowy group, saying it does not engage in state-sponsored cyber hacking, even claiming that it was a victim of computer hacking from American groups.




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