MORE SENATORS PUSH FOR OPEN SKIES PACK RATIFICATION

MANILA, OCTOBER 22, 2003  (STAR) With several senators declaring that the RP-US Air Transport Agreement (ATA) needs Senate concurrence, the Senate is expected to adopt a resolution asking Malacaņang to submit the pact to the chamber for review and ratification.

Senators Ralph Recto and Robert Jaworski expressed confidence the members of the Senate foreign relations committee will vote in favor of their resolution to have the agreement reviewed by the Senate.

Jaworski is the latest senator to join the growing clamor to have the 1980 RP-US ATA that paved the way for an open skies regime between the two countries ratified by the Senate.

Jaworski filed Senate Resolution 695 last week urging the Senate committee on foreign affairs chaired by Sen. Manuel Villar to put the agreement under scrutiny.

He said the Senate should study the far-reaching implications of an open skies policy with the US and exercise its constitutionally-mandated treaty-concurring prerogative.

Earlier, Recto filed a similar resolution asking Malacaņang to submit the agreement and its amendments, if any, to the Senate for review and ratification.

In published statements, Senators Joker Arroyo, Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Sergio Osmeņa III have declared that the RP-US ATA needs to be ratified by the Senate.

"Open skies might cripple the aviation industry and displace airline workers and airline-related businesses," Jaworski said in his resolution.

He said open skies does not necessarily translate into more tourists, noting that tourism is being hampered not by lack of airline seats, but by problems such as peace and order, absence of infrastructure and inadequate tourist destinations.

The senator said the agreement does not provide for a level-playing field between Philippine and US carriers as it imposes restrictions on the access of RP airlines to market opportunities. Under the pact, the US has full access to the travel market to the Philippines.

He said while the US has unlimited 5th freedom rights between the Philippines and most Asian countries and the right to fly from any US point to any RP destination with no routing restrictions, Philippine carriers are restricted to just five countries beyond the US and they can only serve non-stop a limited number of US destinations.

According to Jaworski, the implementation of an open skies regime would also strip the Civil Aeronautics Board of its regulatory powers as prescribed under Republic Act 776.

Jaworski, Recto, Arroyo, Pimentel and Osmeņa have agreed that the 1980 RP-US ATA needs to be concurred in by the Senate pursuant to its treaty-concurring powers under the 1987 Constitution.

They said although the agreement was forged in 1980, it came into full effect only on Oct. 1 this year, thus giving the Senate the right to review the pact.

It was also revealed that the agreement was not submitted to the then Batasang Pambansa for approval.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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