Palace accepts ATO chief’s resignation

() - November 26, 2007 - 12:00am

Malacañang has accepted the resignation of Assistant Secretary Nilo Jatico as Air Transportation Office chief last Nov. 12, leaving the ATO in the hands of executive director Daniel Dimagiba.

It has been reported that former Philippine Airlines pilot Capt. Jacinto Ortega, who served the same post from 1998 to 2001, would be called back to run the ATO.

After Ortega left, retired Air Force Gen. Adelberto Yap took over for two years until Jatico assumed the helm of the aviation office.

It was also reported that another Air Force general now assigned in Batangas would be appointed to replace Jatico.

The ATO post calls for either a graduate of a flying school and a licensed pilot or an air traffic controller, which Dimagiba had to overcome because he is an aeronautical engineering graduate.

His advantage is that he rose from the ranks and knows the ins and outs of aviation.

Jatico, a former PAF general, was suspended for three months starting last November for allegedly failing to liquidate some P1.2 million in cash advances for three years.

When interviewed, Jatico said he had liquidated the money but it was the ATO accounting office that failed to remit the amount to the national treasury.

When informed of his suspension last November, Jatico said he would rather resign than accept a dishonorable accusation.

“I was PAF general for many years, and I was never accused of any wrongdoing,” he said.

During his four years as ATO chief, Jatico was able to activate the long-pending Civil Aeronautics Administration Bill that seeks to make the ATO an authority, similar to the Manila International Airport Authority with inherent powers to disburse its own funds.

The bill is now in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Edgardo Angara, while Jatico’s fellow Negrense, Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella is moving the bill in the House.

The ATO earns P3 billion a year from Air Navigational Charges, but all of these funds are remitted to the national treasury.

In return, the Department of Transportation and Communications, which oversees the ATO provides the agency with a P1-billion budget.

The amount is barely able to cover salaries and other expenditures.

As of this month, the ATO has a pending 13 months’ overtime pay for air controllers, while its outdated radar is undergoing repairs and won’t be finished until July next year.

Jatico also pushed for the successful implementation of the 10-year program to upgrade the country’s aviation sector via the Communication-Navigation-Surveillance, Air Traffic Management (CNS-ATM) system that would see completion in 2010.   Rudy Santos

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