By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

Stranded passengers at the NAIA. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are looking to expedite the upgrade of facilities and replace affected equipment following the New Year’s Day technical glitch that resulted in suspended flight operations in several of the country’s major airports.

In a statement on Wednesday, the CAAP said the decision to upgrade came after a meeting with various heads of government agencies on Tuesday.

“After CAAP reported their investigation and traced the most likely cause of the glitch, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista said Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Ivan John Uy offered to assist CAAP in expediting acquisition,” it said.

During the meeting, National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos suggested declaring such communications and electrical equipment as vital to national security to accelerate its purchase and prevent a repeat of the incident.

CAAP reported that the glitch does not appear to be the result of a cybercrime “because affected electrical equipment cannot be manipulated from outside CAAP compound.”

“Nonetheless, a review will still be conducted by cyber-security experts,” it said.

The meeting was followed by an inspection of affected equipment and facilities inside the CAAP compound by heads and representatives of the DOTr, DICT, Department of National Defense, National Intelligence Coordination Agency and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

In a radio interview, Bautista said he received news of the glitch at around 10 a.m. on Sunday and immediately informed President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

“Ang sabi niya ay pilitin nating maayos ‘yan as soon as possible and ‘yung mga maapektuhan na pasahero see to it na they are taken care of (Marcos said we should try to fix it as soon as possible and affected passengers must be taken care of),” he said.

Aside from providing food and drinks to passengers, he said those with canceled flights have been rebooked without additional fees while diverted flights were coordinated with different airports.

On Sunday, the CAAP Air Traffic Management system and its backup failed, stranding hundreds of flights and thousands of passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Clark, Mactan, Davao and other CAAP-operated airports.

The incident was the result of a loss of power due to a problem in the system’s electrical network and the failure of its uninterruptible power supply that served as the backup power supply. (PNA)