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Marcos wants to expedite the improvement of the aviation safety system.

To prevent problems similar to the one that occurred on January 1 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has ordered the modernization of the nation’s aviation safety system to proceed quickly (NAIA).

Jaime Bautista, secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), announced on Tuesday that the management agreement with Sumitomo-Thales, the company in charge of maintaining the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ (CAAP) communications, navigation, and surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system, will also be accelerated.

“[Marcos] is very aware of what happened and he supports our recommendation to implement future requirements necessary for the upgrade or improvement of the CNS/ATM system, which includes hardware and software maintenance, hardware replacement, the need for an independent CNS/ATM in a different location, and the ultimate fallback system for software redundancy,” Bautista said.

He claimed that since September of last year, the government has cooperated with Sumitomo-Thales to assist CAAP with the upkeep of the CNS/ATM system.

He said that monetary difficulties with the maintenance supplier prevented the parties from reaching a maintenance agreement.

He said, “They have a claim against the government, we also have a claim against them, and they were just trying to settle this. Hopefully, by the end of this month, we’ll have a clear indication on how we will be able to settle the issue.”

He claimed that in order to remove the claims issue from any arrangement with Sumitomo-Thales, the government is seeking to do so.

In a meeting with Sumitomo-Thales a few weeks ago, we proposed that we bargain for a long-term maintenance arrangement while the problems are being resolved, he said.

To maintain the system redundant and further reduce the risk of problems that could impair airport operations, the government is also planning to build an offsite permanent backup system, possibly in another airport. This is in addition to modernizing the CNS/ATM system.

To accomplish this and to be able to estimate the cost, he said, “we will need to prepare a feasibility study. Once approved, we will present the cost to NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) for funding from either the General Appropriations Act or ODA (official development assistance).

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