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Aviation industry players form anti-graft group

MANILA, Philippines - Local aircraft owners, small charter flight operators, pilots and flight attendants have formed a group to fight the alleged corruption and red tape at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Retired pilot Vic Mejias, spokesman of the General Aviation Association of the Philippines (GAAP), said they will speak out against the questionable policies and regulations allegedly implemented by the CAAP. They hope to get President Aquino’s attention so reforms can be done, he added.

CAAP’s top officials “don’t know what they’re doing. Things have gone really bad and we have decided to take action to stop it from getting worse,” Mejias told The STAR after a meeting of the fledgling watchdog group.

GAAP president Basilio Cruz, a retired senior pilot, said pilots of commercial airlines and small air charter firms have been complaining that the processing and release of air pilot licenses now take as much as three months when it used to take only one week.

Cruz said the delay in the release of the licenses and certificates caused pilots to find opportunities to earn, and a pilot may resort to shelling out money to pay unscrupulous CAAP personnel to facilitate the release of their papers.

He said air charter firms and aircraft owners who rent out their planes also have the same problem.

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Mejias – who said he is a former pilot of Aquino’s father, former senator Benigno Aquino Jr. – said the CAAP leadership has been slow to take action on individual complaints.

CAAP director general Ramon Gutierrez brushed off the group’s statement, saying the GAAP’s officials are consultants at the agency’s Flight Standards and Inspectorate Service (FSIS) whose contracts were not renewed.

“They were removed from the CAAP. So they have an axe to grind especially the FSIS,” he said.

Gutierrez said FSIS chief Elmer Pena, had not renewed the contracts of most of the GAAP’s officials for their alleged involvement in anomalous dealings. 

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