House to begin NAIA glitch probe on Jan 10

A LAWMAKER said on Saturday that the House Committee on Transportation will start its investigation on the technical glitch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that resulted in the cancellation and delay of the flights, affecting 65,000 passengers on New Year's Day.

San Jose del Monte, Bulacan Rep. Florida Robes said in a radio interview that the probe will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, to determine the liability of certain air transportation officials.

“I already wrote a letter to House Speaker [Martin] Romualdez, through the majority leader, to allow us to conduct a hearing, and we are awaiting the approval of the speaker,” Robes said, noting that Romualdez already authorized the House Committee on Transportation, led by Rizal Rep. Romeo Acop, to proceed with the investigation despite Congress formally resuming session on Jan. 23, 2023.

“The Committee on Transportation will discuss all the details, from the maintenance, equipment [to the] technical glitch. That will be on January 10. Our chairman Romeo Acop is ready for the probe. I am also a member of the committee,” she added.

Robes said she was one of the 65,000 passengers affected by the technical malfunction.

“I was also a victim here. We came at around 10 a.m. for our 3 p.m. flight back [to Manila]. We were even advised to check in despite an advisory from Manila. We were finally advised that our flights were canceled at 3:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m., we were told to go home,” Robes said.

The lawmaker lamented that airline staff did not even offer water to stranded passengers.

“Some passengers were forced to sleep on the floor. The airport is the mirror of our tourism, investment and employment. The CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines), NAIA and, of course, DoTr (Department of Transportation) as a policymaker, should have handled it better,” Robes said.

She added that the probe aims to determine the root cause of the incident.

“We want to know what happened with their communication as we have seen, there was no immediate action to the problem,” she said, adding the efficiency and capability of concerned officials should also be examined.

“What really happened inside. There are many rumors. They have their own defense. We want to hear them face to face if they became responsible enough to serve our Filipino people, especially the foreigners who came here for the holidays. They should have anticipated the influx of people and stop saying it as force majeure. I don't believe that. There should be a backup,” Robes said.

On Friday, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. apologized to those affected by the glitch after inspecting the NAIA.

The President assured that though the airport is now back to normal operations, all issues concerning the disastrous malfunction will be addressed.

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