ANGELES CITY – The Pinoy Gumising Ka Movement (PGKM) has lambasted the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) anew as it reiterated its call for the full and immediate development of the Clark International Airport (CIA) in the light of last Friday’s flight diversions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and massive flooding in Metro Manila.
The radar system of NAIA bogged down on Friday after its power source reportedly caught fire apparently due to a lightning strike, prompting aviation authorities to limit aircraft traffic. According to reports, the breakdown lasted for eight hours and added to the problems arising from the cancelation or diversion of more than 70 flights due to Typhoon Mario.
The PGKM noted that flight diversions from the NAIA have become perennial which has continuously caused embarrassment to the Philippines. PGKM Chair Ruperto Cruz chided the DOTC for ineptitude and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for approving “poor navigational equipment” at NAIA.
“I thought these are all-weather navigational equipment. Typhoon Mario is not even in the scale of (Typhoon) Yolanda but the NAIA radar equipment are just too susceptible,” Cruz lamented. “Will the CAAP cite the same reason again next year?” he asked.
“How much did the government spend for these apparently second-class equipment?” The PGKM said the DOTC, CAAP and the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) should look at how even minor typhoons can wreak havoc to NAIA which cancels flights to the inconvenience of air travelers.
But Cruz asked: “Is it also possible that the flight diversions are due to the runway constriction because of too many flights landing at the same time?” “It’s now time for Clark to be fully developed. It’s a cheaper option since it is already operational and only needs the total commitment of the government,” Cruz said.
“Ot ere pa gawan ing Clark para ala nang diversions (Why don’t they fully develop Clark to prevent anymore diversions),” he said. The apathy of the government on the Clark airport is the reason why the PGKM is insisting that there is a conspiracy not to develop it, Cruz said.
“After all these years, after all these situations, the perennial problems still exists,” he observed. “Why is there no effort to intervene for the full development of Clark when the first senior ministers meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) summit will be held in Clark?” he asked.
“APEC, we doubt it. Pota alang epek uling alang flights (There might be no effect because of lack of flights). There is no effort to intervene for the development of the airport,” he lamented. Cruz said the lack of flights may have caused the loss of the Disneyland project of former Congressman Tarzan Lazatin at the Clark subzone.
“It did not push through because there are no flights,” he added. The PGKM said it believes that with government apathy, the authority to develop Clark should be given to the Kapampangans so that it can see the realization of its full potential as a premiere international airport.
Last Friday at the height of Typhoon Mario, the CAAP disallowed take-offs and landings at NAIA starting at 3:57 a.m., except for Airbus 319s, Boeing 737s and other planes that have area navigation (RNAV) capability.
Reports indicate that fire was caused by a lightning strike accompanying the monsoon rains enhanced by Mario early Friday, despite the four NAIA terminals being equipped with lightning arresters to prevent such disruptions. The radar system was restored at 11:23 a.m.
However, more flights had to be cancelled in the afternoon due to strong winds and heavy rains in Metro Manila. In an advisory, the Manila International Airport (MIAA) said eight international flights were diverted to the Mactan- Cebu International Airport and Clark, while 70 domestic flights were cancelled.