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Cablegate: Philippine Civil Aviation Update

VZCZCXRO2592
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1619 1910904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090904Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1214
INFO RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 3571
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2828
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6411
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9837

UNCLAS MANILA 001619

STATE FOR EAP/MTS
TRANSPORTATION FOR FAA
SINGAPORE AND TOKYO FOR FAA

SIPDIS, SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ETRD BEXP RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE CIVIL AVIATION UPDATE

REF: Manila 03743

1. (SBU) Summary: Immediately upon the return to the Philippines
from the U.S. of President Arroyo, the Government of the Philippines
established a new Civil Aviation Administration of the Philippines
in order to fast track its effort to remedy civil aviation safety
concerns identified by the USG in 2007 (reftel). A direct result of
the very effective briefing of Philippine Congressman Puentevella by
the FAA on the margins of the Arroyo visit, the President also
appointed a Director General for the new institution and instructed
him to move aggressively to establish an effective civil aviation
safety regulatory system for the Philippines. End Summary.

2. Newly appointed Philippine Civil Aviation Administration
Director General Ruben F. Ciron told econoffs on July 8 that he
recognized the severity of the current deficiencies in Philippine
civil aviation regulation, and that he hoped to meet with FAA
officials at an early opportunity. At the same dinner meeting,
Congressman Monico Puentevella proudly asked econoffs to convey to
USG officials in Washington that he had fulfilled his promise to
spur Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appoint a Civil
Air Director General with good managerial capabilities.

3. (SBU) Former Department of National Defense Assistant Secretary
and Air Force Major General Ciron was formally sworn-in as the first
Philippine Civil Aviation Administration Director General around
noon on July 7. His appointment represents a significant success
for USG advocacy efforts over the weeks prior to and during
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's June meetings in Washington. In
particular, the coordinated efforts of various State and FAA offices
led to the highly effective briefing that FAA Deputy Director for
Flight Standards Jon Allen and International Programs Manager Mel
Cintron gave Congressman Puentevella on June 25, the substance of
which Puentevella relayed to President Arroyo within hours. The
telephone call notifying General Ciron of his appointment as
Director General came while the presidential party was still in the
United States.

4. (SBU) Within hours of his taking the oath of office, General
Ciron convened a meeting of the entire civil aviation board, spoke
with the seven International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
consultants currently working in Manila, cancelled a planned trip of
Philippine civil aviation officials to Brussels, and met twice with
Congressman Puentevella to discuss the FAA June 25 briefing.

5. (SBU) During the July 8 dinner, General Ciron said he hoped to
meet with FAA officials soon to discuss a proposed FAA action plan
and the possibility of postponing the ICAO review scheduled for
November 2008. (Ciron understands that the Philippines is unlikely
to pass this review.) General Ciron said he would welcome an FAA
visit in early August, and sometime later would consider a trip to
Washington meet FAA officials. He said he would not support any
trips by any other Philippine aviation officials to the United
States prior to his own trip. Ciron noted that his Deputy Director
General will be former Iloilo International Airport Administrator
and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation and
Communications Eduardo "Red" Kapunan.

6. (SBU) U.S. and Philippine industry sources believe General Ciron
has good potential to turn the Civil Aviation Administration in the
right direction. He is deemed to be well-briefed on the issues at
hand, mission-oriented, and open to suggestions. He took notes
during the dinner meeting with econoffs and referred to notes of
other meetings. Ciron is a former F-86 Sabrejet pilot and former
staff aide to Senator Enrile when Enrile served as Secretary of
Defense during the Marcos presidency.

KENNEY

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