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Senate to probe Jan. 1 air control system malfunction 

THE DEPARTURE area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 was crowded with passengers at midnight of Jan. 2 after the Philippine air space was shut on Jan. 1 due to technical problems with the air traffic control system. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

THE SENATE will conduct an inquiry into the Jan. 1 glitch in the country’s air control system that shut the entire Philippine air space, a committee chair of the chamber said, noting that the incident involves national security. 

“Give them (airport authorities) time to restore normal flight operations,” Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, chairperson of the Senate Public Services Committee, said in a statement on Monday.  

“After which, we will conduct an inquiry and direct them to submit a full report of what caused the supposed glitch and power outage.”  

She noted that lawmakers will question officials from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on the navigation equipment and determine who is accountable for the reported technical glitch.  

Ms. Poe added the CAAP needs to be transparent and show accountability for the flight disruptions.  

“This is a national security concern,” the senator said. “Thousands of lives depend on the efficiency and competence of CAAP.” 

The CAAP is responsible for implementing policies on safe and efficient air travel and investigating aviation accidents.  

It is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation. 

Senators Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Joseph Victor “JV” G. Ejercito and Jose “Jinggoy” P. Ejercito, Jr. also raised concerns about the hundreds of inbound and outbound flights.  

Mr. Gatchalian urged airport authorities to take accountability for the inconvenience caused to thousands of passengers.  

“The government must do everything in its power to ensure that this doesn’t happen again given the impact it would have on affected passengers and the negative impression that it would have on our foreign visitors,” he said in a statement.  

Mr. Ejercito Jr. called the situation a “double black eye” for the country. 

On Sunday, the Manila International Airport Authority said almost 60,000 international and domestic passengers were affected by the delays and cancellations.  

All other airports across the country were also affected.   

Meanwhile, Senator Maria Lourdes “Nancy” S. Binay-Angeles said it was time for the CAAP to upgrade its equipment following the “bothersome and concerning” loss of power. 

“I hope the Department of Budget and Management can assist Transport Secretary Jaime J. Bautista in finding funding to upgrade the CAAP’s equipment this year,” she said in a statement.   

“What happened at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport makes it hard for us to promote traveling to the Philippines when a service attribute has failed.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez 

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