(File photo)

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) will start imposing a stricter policy on the flying of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) near the Puerto Princesa City International Airport (PPCIA) to strengthen the safety and security of passengers.

In an airport security meeting on Monday, CAAP Tower and Approach Security chief Engr. Nathaniel Rodriguez said it is necessary that owners and controllers register their drones with CAAP to prevent future problems.

The tightening of security within the PPCIA area, he explained, also means model aircraft flyers should have permits from the CAAP and not only from the city government. Rodriguez said the impositions are necessary to prevent accidents and acts of terrorism through their use.

“If the activity will go higher than 400 feet, puwede naman ‘yan provided meron itong permit ng ating CAAP,” Rodriguez said, referring to private individuals and commercial establishments that use drones during special events.

He said barangay officials in the city and province should also be aware of the regulations that govern the flying of drones, such as City Ordinance No. 906 and Republic Act 9497.

Barangay officials, he added, should actively confront and check if individuals or establishments using drones have permits.

Rodriguez’ appeal was backed by CAAP chief Percy Malonesio who pointed out that an agreement should be signed among security enforcement agencies to strengthen laws that apply to the flying of remotely-piloted vehicles.

“Dapat kasama rin natin ang tourist police sa paghuli kung wala silang permits.  Dapat may close coordination tayo kasi nga safety ang pinag-uusapan natin dito kaya dapat magkakaisa lang tayo,” Malonesio said.

In a separate interview, CAAP information officer Tin Beguina said the airport security meeting was compelled by the sighting of two drones recently within the vicinity of the PPCIA and by the news of the Gatwick Airport shutdown in Britain due to the flying of the UAVs over its runway.

“Nagkaroon po kasi ng dalawang sightings ng drone dito malapit sa vicinity ng airport. Mahirap kasi ‘yong nangyari sa airport sa England na nagkaproblema dahil sa drones. Ang nakalagay sa city ordinance ay di sila allowed within 10 kilometers of the airport,” she said.

Based on the local ordinance, owners or controllers of UAVs should not fly them within the 10-kilometer radius of the aerodrome reference point (ARP) or center point of an airport for public safety and security.

They may not also fly them 350 meters or less above ground level (AGL) within the airport perimeter without prior notice to the CAAP.

The airport security meeting was also attended by representatives from the Western Command (WESCOM), city police, and other security line agencies.