CIAC reiterates oversight functions of Clark airport operations

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE—The Clark International Airport Corp. renewed calls to become the implementing arm of the Department of Transportation to exercise oversight functions of the privately-run Clark International Airport.

Newly-appointed CIAC President and CEO Aaron Aquino said he reiterated this concern to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade in a meeting on Wednesday with other aviation sector officials.

“We respectfully asked Secretary Tugade and sought his guidance and formal directive since CIAC manages the aviation complex here in Clark (and is) host to the private Clark airport,” Aquino confirmed.

The DOTr exercises policy and operational supervision over CIAC.  The airport oversight functions of CIAC may be issued through a DOTr memorandum circular or administrative order.

“Airports are public utilities and therefore a public concern. While the government encourages private sector partnerships, we must not be remiss in our duties to place public wellbeing as our paramount objective,” Aquino added.

The agency’s oversight responsibilities will include, among others, ensuring the safety and security of the riding public, and providing overall coordination of all government agencies operating at the airport especially with crucial roles in enforcing public safety, customs, quarantine, and immigration laws.

On the economic side, Aquino said CIAC’s oversight role will assure that any further landside projects surrounding the airport must conform to the Master Development Plan approved by the government.

“Oversight will also mean government responsibility in this time of the pandemic, that initiatives for the riding public are ensured, such as the methodical and hands-on management of stranded or repatriated passengers,” Aquino said.

Since August 2019, the private company Luzon International Premiere Airport Development (Lipad) operates and maintains the Clark airport by virtue of a 25-year contract with the government.

Aquino, a former police general who led the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, also noted that CIAC’s oversight functions will also entail enhancing airport security and close coordination with law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community, “including the United States Department of Homeland Security.”

The CIAC chief noted that Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, also an attached agency of the DOTr, maintains oversight functions of the operations of the Mactan-Cebu airport which is operated by the private consortium GMR Megawide Corp.

Aquino was joined during the meeting with the transportation secretary by CIAC Vice President for Operations Irish Calaguas, DOTr assistant secretaries Jaime Melo and Giovanni Lopez, Director General Jim Sydiongco of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Senior Vice President Joshua Bingcang of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, and Administrator Raul del Rosario of the Office of Transportation Security.

After his stint as PDEA director general, Aquino was appointed last May 29 by President Rodrigo Duterte to head the government corporation in charged with developing the 2,367-hectare civil aviation complex in Clark, the remaining prime government land ripe for commercial use.

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