By Recto Mercene
THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) has accused Japan of not treating the country as an equal and proposed the abrogation of the air service agreement (Asa) between the two countries to President Aquino.
This came about after Japan’s Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) refused to allow Philippine carriers such as Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific (CEB) to increase flight frequencies to more Japanese cities.
“They are not responsive to the Icao [International Civil Aviation Organization], which declared that all member-states are co-equal, and the impositions being made by the Japanese CAB do not indicate they are treating the Caap as a co-equal,” said Caap Deputy Director General John Andrews in an interview in his office in Pasay City.
The Icao recently gave the Caap a clean bill of health, saying the aviation body had met international standards, following a review of what it had done to address significant safety concerns during the last five years.
In 2008 the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded the Philippines to Category 2, meaning
Philippine carriers could no longer mount more destinations to the US, while the European Union disallowed Philippine air carriers from flying into any of its 27 member-countries.
The Icao finding paves the way for the Caap to ask the EU to remove the Philippines from the blacklist and the FAA to allow the same carriers to fly to more destinations on the US mainland.
Andrews said the EU is expected to remove the Philippines from its blacklist by the end of this month.
Despite this, however, Andrews said Japan refused to recognize the clearance that the Icao awarded to the Philippines.
“They do not even want to have any air talks. They have made some previous requests…certain issues that we have complied with as early as two months ago and they are even demanding things that are not within their purview to ask.”
Asked to reveal what these demands are, Andrews said Japan wanted to know about the Caap’s plans and how much it was paying its employees.
“That is, I think, uncalled for, unless they feel that we should be subservient to them,” Andrews said.
He said even the President had made remarks in the past in dealing with some issues in the South China Sea that all countries must respect our sovereignty.
“We must exercise our sovereignty. We have at least gotten the respect of all major nations in the world as far as the Caap is concerned,” Andrews said.
He said a few weeks ago, Caap Director General William K. Hotchkiss, feeling insulted about Japan’s behavior, wrote President Aquino recommending the abrogation of the air treaty between the Philippines and Japan.
“The letter is now in Malacañang,” Andrews added.
Japan’s CAB cited that the Philippines remains on Category 2 as the reason for its refusal.
Asked if that was the reason for not allowing more Philippine carriers entry into more Japanese cities, Andrews said: “Well, they are not really stating that for a fact. But look at it this way, as soon as our low-cost airlines start going to Japan, that is going to derail the…you know what I mean.”
Asked if the reason is economic, Andrews said he does not see any other reason but economic.