MANILA — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday said officials responsible for the "unforgivable" New Year's day air traffic fiasco should be fired considering the "embarrassment" it brought to the Philippines.
"It is unforgivable 'yong nangyari sa atin, why? Unang una, nakakahiya, buong mundo naging laman tayo ng balita na walang nakakaraan na airplane ni-isa sa Philippine airspace... If it was incompetence then people should be fired," Zubiri said during a media forum.
(What happened to us was unforgivable. First, it was embarrassing, we made headlines worldwide because no one could pass over the Philippine airspace.)
Zubiri said he was vacationing in Japan when he heard the news of the incident, which affected around 65,000 passengers.
"Ako nga I was on a family vacation sa Japan... biglang nadinig ko 'yong salitang Philippines... Talagang nakakahiya," he said.
(I was on a family vacation sa Japan and I suddenly heard 'Philippines.' It was so embarrassing.)
The Senate Committee on Public Services is set to investigate the aviation mess on Thursday, January 12.
According to Zubiri, he wants to find out if the fiasco was caused by mere incompetence or sabotage, given that similar incidents "only happened 3 times in the world."
"Kung may sabotahe ilabas nila, may nag-sabotahe, may nag-hack. 'Pag may kapalpakan ilabas nila... Such a large incident like that and I ask even my staff to check around the world. Apparently, it only happened 3 times in the world na nagka-systems failure," he said.
(If there was sabotage, hacking, they should disclose that. If it was their fault, they should admit it.)
Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista earlier said the air traffic management center, which controls inbound and outbound flights, "went down" due to a power outage that resulted in the loss of communication, radio, radar and internet.
"The secondary problem was the power surge due to the power outage which affected the equipment," he said.
More than 360 flights in and out of Manila were cancelled, diverted or delayed.
The outage hit as many people began returning to the capital for work and school after the Christmas and New Year break.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. last week apologized to the passengers affected by the airspace fiasco.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse