Poe questions MIAA's 'lax security' amid possible human trafficking case

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2023 08:31 PM

MANILA — The Senate Blue Ribbon committee will kick off Tuesday its investigation into the February 13 incident Sen. Grace Poe said could be a "human smuggling activity."

Poe on Monday said the incident involved the transport of 9 foreign passengers. However, only 7 travelers boarding the contracted Globan chartered plane appeared in documents.

The flight was reportedly cleared by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), PNP Aviation Security Group, CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).

“Sabi ng Immigration, yung anim lang daw na nakasakay doon cleared na talaga from the very beginning. May naisingit na isa. But it went through clearance with the Immigration kaya makikita nyo handwitten lang," she said.

What tapped Poe's interest was the report that 3 Immigration officers even sent off the chartered plane’s passengers. 

She said one was not even on duty, and the one who signed the passengers’ clearance was not the authorized officer.

Poe’s sources tipped off that chartered flight passengers can freely enter MIAA premises while on their vehicle.

“So kahit sino pala basta nakasakay lang. Eh kung Grandia ang dala mo, ilan ang pwedeng isakay doon? Kahit na 12 sila doon sa sasakyan na yun hindi natin alam. So security risk ito sa atin. Kasi imagine tarmac yun eh kung nagdala sila ng mga kontrabando doon o kung terorista silang nakasakay lang sa sasakyan na na-clear, malaking responsibilidad ng MIAA dito. Bakit nila pinapayagan?” Poe said.

"Number 2, there are no CCTV cameras there. It's crucial. Kaya nga sinabing security area yun, dapat may CCTV. Kung sa baggage handling nga may security cameras, bakit doon wala?” she also pointed out.

The BI and other agencies involved in giving the flight clearance will be grilled on Tuesday’s hearing, the senator said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is also expecting officials of Hong Kong-based Globan, the aviation company that transported the foreign passengers, to attend the hearing, Poe said.