Fair is fair



I was surprised when the Airline Pilots Association of the Philippines (ALPAP) expressed dissatisfaction at the sanctions imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on the two Cebu Pacific pilots who skidded their plane off the runway of the Davao International Airport early this month.

APAP claims the penalties for their two members were too harsh: one year suspension for the pilot and three months for the co-pilot.

I really can not understand what the fuss is all about. The two Cebu Pac aviators really fouled up on their job and endangered the lives of of their passengers that day.

Observers believe that CAAP Director John Andrews, who used to be Cebu Pacific’s chief pilot, was still decent and kind enough to hand down those sanctions on the erring pilots. The two are allowed to fly smaller commercial and cargo planes during their suspension but only as co-pilots.

Andrews, a veteran commercial pilot himself, announced recently that the crash landing in Davao airport was caused by human error and should not be blamed on mechanical or communications breakdown.

As one pilot puts it, “flying an airplane is not like driving a car. There is no room for error when you’re up there. When the pilots make a mistake, its a disaster.”

But the question whether the pilots were tired or stressed out at that time that caused them to make bad judgment or decision remains unanswered.

Earlier reports suggest that they could have been tired since Cebu Pacific pilots are known to fly longer hours and in various destinations in one day.

Nevertheless, Capt. Andrews and CAAP should be commended for investigating the incident and for coming out with an objective.

Their message is clear: flying a plane is a serious job. There should be no margin for error at all.

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Blame politicians for bungled gov’t project
President Aquino lashed out at National Irrigation Authority (NIA) officials early this week for their failure to meet the agency’s target of irrigating thousands of hectares of farmlands throughout the country.

Pnoy cited Tarlac, his home province, as a prime example, where a dam should have been constructed there to irrigate thousands of hectares in the area.

The Chief Executive wondered why the Balog-balog Dam has not been started yet though it was the directive by the Office of the President since the time of his mother, President Cory.

However, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala last Wednesday on Radyo 5 defended NIA’s inaction on the Balog-balog dam by saying that they have to change the design from time to time according to suggestions made by the farmers themselves.

But my mole at NIA said that local politicians should be blamed for the failure of the project.

Their constant interference on the plan or design of the project delays its implementation.

My source said the congressmen in the area, the governor, and even the mayors often would question the design or cost of the project not for the interest of the government but for their financial gains from the project through kickback, commission, or what is commonly known now as “tongpats”.

This practice has been going on for several years now. And it will not end anytime soon . . . not even during this Administration with its “tuwid na daan” policy.

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[I will be out of the country for three weeks starting Monday , July ,1 for my annual leave at TV 5. My column will resume on July 22 as I will be back by then, God willing.]



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