A drone shot of vehicles in gridlock at Pacdal Circle, Baguio City was admired for how it captured the traffic congestion that resembled a “parol” but it violated some drone-flying regulations.
The picture was initially uploaded on Reddit Philippines, where users praised how the vehicles’ formation appeared to form a Filipino-style Christmas lantern from the camera’s perspective.
However, some users noted that the picture violated some regulations set by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on drone flying—particularly its operational hours and geographical location.
User “clycly03” wrote, “Night flying is prohibited, right? And Baguio City is a NFZ (no-flying zone).”
Another user, “taughtbytragedy,” wrote, “Bawal po mag-drone sa gabi, according to CAAP. Ingat ingat lang.”
Rules on drone flying
Anyone can operate a camera drone on the Philippines for private or commercial purposes provided they follow certain rules set by CAAP, the government agency that authorizes people to operate such equipment.
Under the current regulations, operating drones during the night is prohibited unless the controller has sought authorization from the agency.
Furthermore, it is mandated that drone controllers must always keep their equipment within their “line of sight.”
The government agency also prohibits drones from flying within the 10-kilometer radius of any airport.
The nearest airport from Pacdal Circle is Loakan Airport, which is approximately 8.0 kilometers away via Loakan Road and South Drive.
Part of CAAP’s regulation states: “No person may use an RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system) in a controlled or prohibited airspace unless authorized.”
CAAP also prohibits drones from operating over “populous areas” such as schools and marketplaces.
While Pacdal Circle may not be considered populous in regular days, it was filled with motorists from every direction of its exit during the time the drone shot was captured.
Steps being taken
The local officials of Baguio proposed in February 2018 a legislative measure that would regulate drone-flying in the city.
It was due to the frequency of camera drones being operated in the summer capital of the Philippines for recreational and commercial purposes.
Called the “Baguio City Drone Regulation Ordinance,” it would establish requirements and prohibitions on any individual who would want to operate drones in the city.
Former Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel in March 2018 also filed a bill that sought to regulate the use of drones in safeguarding the public’s safety.
“The same drones that are used for recreational and commercial purposes may be used to violate rights, exploited by terrorists, pose a hazard to aircraft,” he said.