Abaya to focus on PH Category 2 upgrade

By Lawrence Agcaoili, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 04 2012 07:27 AM | Updated as of Sep 04 2012 06:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Newly appointed Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is set to take over the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) next month.

The Cavite congressman who chairs the committee of appropriations of the House of Representatives would officially assume the leadership of DOTC in the next four weeks to six weeks as soon as Congress approves the proposed 2013 budget.

Abaya is set to lead the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in upgrading the country’s status to Category 1 and would pursue key projects including the night-rating of several airports in the country to support the growing tourism sector.

In 2008, the US FAA downgraded the Philippine rating to Category 2. This prevents Philippine carriers from adding new routes to the US.

To date, only two out of the 22 actionable items identified by the US Federal Aviation Authority as safety concerns remain unresolved. These are the lack of qualified safety personnel and the absence of an integrated information technology (IT) system to modernize the sector’s database.

Abaya would also see to it that the Passengers Bill of Rights for air travelers is finalized and signed as scheduled.

Likewise, the new DOTC chief would ensure the continuous employment of Filipino seafarers in international seaborne trade through the effective implementation of the amended Standards of Training, Cerification, and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

The legislator would also ensure that infrastructure projects such as the IT program of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are done in open and transparent bidding process.

Abaya said the legacy of outgoing transportation Secretary Mar Roxas at DOTC is a tough act to follow but vows to do his best in ensuring that the Department’s projects are sustained for the country’s best interest.

Roxas who is set to take over the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is confident that Abaya would do an excellent job in sustaining and ensuring that all the infrastructure programs would be implemented accordingly.

Roxas thanked his DOTC family, emphasizing that it was a fulfilling and rewarding experience to work with the team during his 14-month stint at the department.

He added that because of the cooperation and hard work of DOTC’s officials and employees, the department’s infrastructure and other projects are now being rolled out almost every week.