Short-Winged & Short-Sighted

Earlier this week I wrote about the recent blacklisting of Philippine airlines from the EU on my own blog, wherein I made the following observation:

“The implications of the international restrictions cut across the entire Philippine economy, and the problem will require significant investment and sustained decisive action to correct. For an island nation that is only connected to the rest of the world by air, to not already be doing that to solve a problem that it has known about in no uncertain terms for over two years (and counting) is simply baffling.”

Seems I didn’t have to wait long to be proven right; this piece of news popped up on the ABS-CBN website early this morning:

Gov’t alarmed by tour cancellations due to EU ban on carriers | 04/09/2010 1:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines should promptly resolve the European Union’s (EU) ban on Philippine air carriers, since the move has already triggered “an alarming number of tour cancellations from Europe,” the Tourism department said in a statement yesterday.

Last March 31, the EU included the Philippines in its 13th updated list of countries with carriers banned from that region’s airspace, as a precautionary step based on the US Federal Aviation Administration’s downgrading of the country’s safety rating to Category 2 and the International Civil Aviation Organization’s concern on aviation safety regulators.

“Major European travel operators from Germany, UK and France have regretfully informed us their booking cancellations. The entire industry is affected, as European arrivals account for a significant percentage of our target in the first quarter. In January 2010, air arrivals from European countries already posted an 11% growth,” the statement quoted Tourism Secretary Joseph “Ace” H. Durano as saying….

…Tours which were cancelled were mainly for the April-August period, the department noted. “The longer we remain in the blacklist, the harder it would be for us to recover from these significant losses. If we resolve this matter by the second quarter, we can expect a recovery in the third and fourth quarters,” Mr. Durano said.

While Philippine carriers have not been flying to EU states since 1999 even before the ban, the EU’s prohibition has prompted travel insurance firms in Europe to advise travel operators that tour packages to the Philippines which include domestic air travel will not be covered. Hence, tour operators had to cancel bookings due to the difficulty of selling travel packages to the country which include inter-island travel by air.

“It’s a very sad day for us. All our blood, sweat and tears in building up the European market in your country are all down the drain,” an executive of a major French travel operator said in the same statement.

Hey, I can’t help it if I can see the future.

Secretary Durano’s hope of having the issue resolved by the second quarter is in all likelihood futile; the ban by the European Commission was announced shortly after a personal visit to Europe by recently-installed CAAP head Alfonso Cusi, who was apparently unaware that an audit by the ICAO last November (which the CAAP had postponed for at least a year in order to try to correct some of its deficiencies) actually found the problems had gotten worse, not better. The EC as much as told Cusi “don’t hold your breath,” saying that a review was unlikely in the “near” future. And there is no sign that the shortcomings are being corrected; the CAAP is still short on skilled personnel, air traffic controllers – who only make around P18,000 a month to begin with – are still waiting for overtime and extra pay from last year to be processed, and as of the third week of March, Jojo Robles was writing about a badly-needed, $270 million-dollar air traffic management project that is in serious jeopardy because “some quarters” (he doesn’t say who, but implies they’re connected to the DOTC) are questioning the provision in an eight-year old agreement between the RP and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that permits the latter to raise objections about project bidders.

All of which has apparently now boomeranged on what is ordinarily the one bright spot in the Philippine economy, the tourist industry, shooting what was shaping to be a pretty good year right in the ass. The reason I’m bringing this up is that this is just one – ONE – example of a real life, practical issue that requires immediate attention on the part of the new president, and for that matter, the new legislators, when they put their lardy politicians’ butts in the seats come June 30. And so far, exactly nothing is being said by any of them about this or any other current crisis – such as Luzon and Mindanao both being several hundred megawatts short of electricity, or the inevitable rice shortage due to the drought (not to mention several thousand farmers who are going to be in bad shape if they don’t get some assistance). Instead, they’d rather discuss fake psychiatric reports, who was wealthier than whom when they were growing up, and back-office hissy fits, while the electorate does nothing to demand real answers to the problems staring them in the face.

Hey folks, I got news for you: Adam Carolla is not going to turn your lights back on, or take your country off the same list as the Sudan when it comes to air safety, or fill the rice bins in your markets. And neither are Kris Aquino’s kid, Anne Curtis’ (unimpressive) right breast, or the dethroned Miss Philippines Universe or Galaxy or Globular Cluster or whatever the hell it was. The only good question anyone’s asked this week was, naturally, benign0’s: So What? Since he’s stepped up to do everybody the public service of getting that out of the way, maybe it’s about time for everyone to get back to asking about some things that really matter.


About bkritz

I'm a writer, and I do things my own way. That might sound cool to you, unless you're one of the people who actually knows me, in which case you're probably shaking your head in exasperation at the depth of that understatement.
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30 Responses to Short-Winged & Short-Sighted

  1. BongV says:

    Da Pinoy’s reply to this will be……. another rally 🙂

  2. UP nn grad says:

    “Puwede na iyan” bites ‘dem in the beee-hind.

    And you’d think at least one congressman or senator would call for a Congressional Hearing on this matter.

    On two important issues — (1) safety lapse means higher probability of a Pinoy dying;
    (2) cancelled tours // lost revenue — you’d think Pinoys would care, right?

    • BongV says:

      Pinoys care alright. They’ll have another rally to show they care…. we are being discriminated against by (insert favorite bogeyman) 😆

    • BenK says:

      Mar Roxas did make a big show of holding Senate hearings shortly after the original FAA downgrade at the beginning of 2008, which resulted, as all such exercises do, in exactly nothing happening. The really annoying thing about the blacklisting issue is that in both instances — when the FAA downgraded the country and when the Euro Commission followed suit (after, it should be noted, an interval of more than 2 years) — both regulatory agencies gave the country 4 to 6 months warning that such an action would be taken, and urged the Pinas to get its act together before it had to happen.

      The European case is worse, because while the nation’s air industry was under the imminent threat of being blacklisted from Europe (a move that only affects PAL), i.e. after it had already been warned, the government instead was focusing on fast-tracking reciprocal air travel agreements with most of the EU nations, so that PAL could fly its new Boeing 777s on European instead of American routes….because the FAA won’t allow any new routes or aircraft to be added. It was a clear-cut case of “Gee, the Americans are insisting on standards (the ICAO standards, to which over 180 nations, including the RP, are signatories) that we can’t meet, so let’s try to find someplace where the bar isn’t so high.”

      Well, try again. Maybe PAL can launch service to the Sudan, Somalia, or Burma instead.

      Hey Philippines, here’s one for your Pinoy Pride: The EU decided that the national airlines of ANGOLA and NORTH (Why are we flying? Why don’t we buy food?) KOREA are okay, but yours isn’t. Bong’s right, by God….somebody organize a rally, quick.

      • brianitus says:

        You forgot to add that in 2008 GMA did something. She “ordered” someone to fix things in three months, kumpletos recados with the press release pa. Three months passed. I guess she was so happy with the result – nothing – that she even promoted that guy in charge of the affair. Oh, the man was the DOTC Sec. Mendoza. Brilliant chap, isn’t he?


      • BenK says:

        You’re right, she did do that. But after so many of her “orders,” after a while you just don’t even notice them any more.

      • Homer says:

        Her latest order was addressed to her political party: To rally behind Gibo all the way to victory.

        This ought to solidify her legacy. 😉

      • brianitus says:

        The last “orders” of GMA that really got national attention were the orders she made in Washington and New York. However, these were dinner orders. Pfft. LOL.

      • UP nn grad says:

        No wonder Noynoy wants to be president. “Pa-mando-mando” giving orders is supra-EASY.

        what is evident is that if Noynoy does not have the leadership and management skills,
        then what is bad…. can get worse.

        And if Noynoy works with the new congress as well as he/Noynoy had done over the past
        12 years that he/Noy has been in congress (less than 3 laws passed, yehhh-bahh!!!), you’ll
        understand my fear that what is bad… can indeed get worse.

  3. BongV says:

    �It�s a very sad day for us. All our blood, sweat and tears in building up the European market in your country are all down the drain,� an executive of a major French travel operator said in the same statement

    He is just running a business and he already feels that way.How much more, the rest of us, who sweated our asses out, to create solutions to problems only to see that Da Pinoy does not want a solution. Twenty years of since jumping into the labor pool, the experience has been – don’t raise performance levels, we can’t keep up, etc. Da Pinoy just wants pity – kawawa naman ako, nacolonize, etc, kaya dapat tulungan nyo ako, more aid, and protect my infant industries – for eternity. Hmmm… Walang katapusang alibi. There’s more to life than putting up with that crap – go OVERSEAS!!! 😆 Kung gusto nilang maligo sa basura, or magpakatamad, or magpakatanga – walang pumipigil sa kanila. pero wag din nilang pigilan ang mga taong ayaw maligo sa basura – sibat from the Pinas… 😆

    can’t beat em.. join ’em? you kidding?

    fight or flight? fllight to anywhere but the Philippines.. 😆

    Go figure – First World by 2030. Hello Korea and Singapore have truly arrived – not by exporting boxers – but exporting automobiles, cell phones, electronics – and, we started at the same time. Yun nga lang different policies – based on the results, they had the ones that made the economy prosper while we had the policies that keeps the Philippine economy severely retarded.

  4. rafterman says:

    Apparently the only things Da Pinoys could get flying are its voters.

  5. ChinoF says:

    This is what our country gets for having generally anti-foreign policies… Anti-foreignism can kill us.

  6. luraaa says:

    This is alarming, indeed. We don’t have TFC (God forbid) nor Pinoy TV, so I’m saved from political ads and mundane ramblings of these politicians. But really?! Yan ang mga pinapalabas sa balita? Tsk. I mean, I think it’s okay to go into our fantasy world once in a while (because I do, to relieve stress), but at the end of the day we should be realistic. We need to go back to the real world. We have to face our responsibilities as an individual, as a family member, as a member of the community, and as a citizen of a country.

    OT, but it kind of fits with the title ‘short-sighed’:

    I was browsing GMA’s Facebook page and they featured Gordon-Bayani in a press conference at Intramuros, Manila and mentioned that a few celebrities were there. First comment: “6 lang yata ang a-attend, tsk,tsk,tsk”. It annoyed the heck out of me. Then I commented: “So what kung onting celebs lang ang nagpunta sa conference? Election is not just about popularity and winnability.Tsk, ilang araw na lang eleksyon na, ganyan pa rin ba dapat ang thinking? *shakes head*”

    sakit sa ulo. itutulog na lang.

  7. benign0 says:

    Just another instance of the renowned Pinoy-style management-by-crisis. When the brownouts come that’s when people focus on power generation. When the airlines get banned on EU airspace, that’s when safety standards compliance becomes an issue.

    And even when they do become issues and focus area, moronic politics and stariray news STILL TRUMPS ‘EM ALL.

    Pinoy nga naman talaga
    Parang aso
    Matangkad lang kapag naka-upo

    – 😀

    • BenK says:

      It would get a lot more attention if a planeload of passengers screws itself into the ground at NAIA because of all the corners the ATC’s have to cut to keep up with the workload in their under-staffed tower….All credit to the ones who do actually sacrifice the chance at a career that pays them fairly for their skills, because they do a really good job of holding the effed-up system together.

      But even if (when) the inevitable “tragic” air disaster happens, will it provoke the change that needs to be made? If the Philippines’ other transport sectors (*ahem* passenger ferries *ahem*) are any indication, there’s not much reason for optimism.

    • benign0 says:

      Well that is classic Pinoy — relying on heroic people rather than systemic measures to prop up an operation.

      And yes there is of course our renowned track record with safety at sea. But then there’s this rather unsavory reality of the big difference in profile (specially when it comes to what the Philippine Media deems “newsworthy”) between dead inter-island ferry passengers and dead air travelers.

      • BenK says:

        Exactly. And the ICAO says that’s not good enough.

        It still apparently escapes the comprehension of the responsible parties here, too. The protestation of the CAAP and Cusi to the European Commission was that “our airlines (specifically PAL) have very high safety and qualification standards.” And, “It’s not fair that Angola’s and North Korea’s national airlines were cleared (albeit with significant restrictions), but that all airlines from the Philippines were not.”

        The difference is that TAAG and Air Koryo are national flag carriers, therefore the training, certification, and oversight programs that are in place for those airlines in effect constitute their national policies and regulatory structure. Which is still only accepted on a probationary basis; TAAG from Angola, for instance, only earned the right to negotiate landing rights with individual EU countries, who can each decide whether or not to allow them into their countries. Air Koryo has to do it on a flight-by-flight basis. PAL is not nationalized, therefore it is under no legal obligation to maintain the standards it has now — as a practical matter, sure, it would want to keep them up — but the law and regulatory structure of the country whose responsibility it is to require them to do so, i.e., the Philippines, is insufficient. Thus, it’s a systemic problem. And the people who are supposed to be doing something about it are having a hard time wrapping their minds around the problem.

    • Aegis-Judex says:

      I go by the adage “better prepared for something that might not happen, if the alternative is getting caught with your pants down and your small dong hanging between your legs.” It seems we are, again, caught with our collective pants down and our two inches hanging between our legs. THIS is what happens when we do not use our heads to think.

  8. Homer says:

    Whoa, this is bad news for the travel industry. It’s just another situation that proves we don’t need Carolla to say that the Philippines needs to get their s**t together. Of course, this news will most likely fly under the radar because most of the public can’t relate to news items that require them to think.

    Really…short-winged, short-sighted, and short-minded.

    • BenK says:

      Not just the travel industry. You can forget attracting the likes of FedEx or UPS back to the country, or any of the other airlines that are needed to fill out the space at DMIA. Handicap the airport development, and the ancillary commercial development around it also suffers. And since it’s a national issue, the same kind of sting applies to places like Cebu and Davao as well.

      And see if Fraport AG and the German government doesn’t step up the pressure on the government to pay its tab on NAIA-3, getting even nastier about calling in the marker as it were, since the revenue-generating potential of that facility is now knocked even farther into the hazy future.

      • Homer says:

        Ugh, it’s much worse than I initially thought. It becomes sadder-than-sad when the general populace prefers to focus on our pathetic pop-culture.

        Before we know it, the only travel option we may end-up with to travel is a slow boat to China. Of course I’m exaggerating, but you know what I’m getting at if we don’t get our s**t together.

  9. J.B. says:

    I don’t see it as a testament of pinoy mismanagement alone or plain mediocrity.

    People working on this area are always having a hard time moderating greed of influential people who want appeasing their insatiable appetite before anything else.

    A greed first, certification second policy.

  10. guilbautedsookie says:

    To be honest, when I opened this news up to my classmates, they were like, “ganun? Hala ganda ng Agua Bendita nagkita na si fuck him and fuck her”

    Shit. This is a national emergency. Mas nabigyan pa ng weight ang PBB Teen Clash? When will we start prioritizing?

  11. maikimai says:

    This is indeed a serious matter, this is where the REAL problem where the reputation of the Philippines is at stake, instead of that issue with Carolla, where our kababayans would rather give attention.

    • ChinoF says:

      You couldn’t have said it better. Our people like to hit Adam Carolla because he’s just one person, an easier target for them. While launching a barrage of “F— you’s” at the EU might have the GSG9 or MI5 breathing down their necks the next day. LOL

    • Jay says:

      The worst part is that even pinoys in the USA (whom you can say are a slightly different breed due to their upbringing and environment) have also joined on the Adam rant. if in fact they were the front-runners in getting Adam to apologize. Its hilarious because they are the ones usually detached from the country, so ‘national pride’ is the last thing they’d ever think of. But they don’t even notice the problems IN the country.

  12. Pingback: Do Filipinos really know how to be positive? | Anti-Pinoy :)

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