MANILA — Another Thai passenger has claimed that she was also a victim of theft by security screening officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Thai passenger Saruta Jansila reposted the Facebook post of fellow Thai Kitja Thabthim, showing the latter has filed an affidavit of complaint against personnel of Office of Transport Security (OTS) working at NAIA.
Jansila wrote in Thai that she is thankful that Kitja was able to get evidence, adding that she should have taken photos as well when a similar incident happened to her.
On February 22, Kitja and another Thai passenger posted videos of security screening officers pocketing something from Kitja’s bag while interrogating him. Another posted video showed that the missing ¥20,000 yen was handed back to Kitja.
Kitja was a transiting passenger at NAIA, traveling from Bangkok to Japan.
Jansila claimed she had a similar incident of having her money taken at a security screening area at NAIA on February 9. She also had the same route. After passing the security check, they found out they were missing ¥40,000 or equivalent of P16,000.
They also demanded the security screening officers do something or review the CCTVs. One of the officers approached them and kept asking them questions such as their origin or destination and if they liked the Philippines.
Jansila wrote that the officer asked them to recheck their wallet. They were surprised to see their cash back in the wallet but in a different location.
“Hey! Surprise, money moved to 4 front pockets,” Jansila wrote.
Jansila said that they opened their bags and wallets repeatedly before finding their cash back. She was sure she had checked everything.
She shared her experience on the Facebook Page “People Who Like to Roam Around Japan.”
She ended her post with a warning to the travelers to “take care of your valuable assets.”
The Office for Transportation Security said they are already looking into the complaint of Jansila.
“Nabasa ko lang po but we are looking into it. Including report of Sen Grace Poe na ang kaniyang staff ay nawalan ng wristwatch. Gusto ko balikan ng records at sana makakuha kami ng additional information,” OTS Administrator Ma.O Aplasca said.
Manila International Airport Authority said it has imposed measures and changes in the security screening areas, including additional CCTVs.
“Kasi the way they operated parang clockwork eh. Someone was in the screening area, someone was looking at the bag, and habang ino-open ‘yung bag niya, there’s actually, based on the video or based on the statement of the victim, may ibang kumakausap sa kaniya, so possibly, to distract him, while the other officer was going through his bag. So, it seems that we’re looking into that angle.
"In fact, we’re not stopping. In this case, we’re trying to backtrack. Saan pa ba na-deploy itong mga personnel na ‘to, and if we can check, baka may mga complaints or if we still have CCTV footage, baka may makita pa tayong information that will help with the investigation of the OTS,” MIAA Senior Assistant General Manager Bryan Andersen Co said.
MIAA also conducted a thorough review of blind spots across all terminals in order to improve their CCTV deployment.
Aside from the CCTVs, MIAA ordered to remove the film covering the glass panels.
The agency also ordered the strict enforcement of MIAA’s service standard policies for employees of government and non-government agencies assigned in the NAIA Complex, which includes prohibiting security personnel who interact directly with passengers from bringing bags into their area of assignment.
A "no-pocket policy" for uniforms and jackets of personnel will also be implemented.
The security screening officers are not employees of MIAA, but they work under the Office for Transportation Security (OTS).
Aplasca said that the erring screeners, including the officer arrested on March 1, were hired just last year
“Nagtalaga na kami ng mga more responsible supervisors at inspectors. Agad agad nung may naireport na may nawawala nagconduct ang ating mga supervisors ng search mismo sa kanilang mga bulsa sa kanilang bag pero walang narecover ang ating mga supervisors,” Aplasca said.
The screening officer caught told Aplasca that he works three jobs. As seen in Kitja’s video, the other screening officer pleaded Kitja to delete the video because she has seven kids.
"Totoo naman na mababa (ang sweldo). Kaunti talaga dahil salary grade 8, 4 at job order sila. They are earning an average of 15 thousand pesos a month pero hindi naman dapat ito maging reason par gumawa tayo ng hindi maganda,” Aplasca said.
CHANGE OF GUARDS?
The Department of Transportation is discussing transferring the security screening duties to the airport management from the Office for Transportation Security.
“So, this is not just limited to Manila airport, but could happen nationwide as well, and OTS din could concentrate on becoming a regulator or an auditor. Kasi ngayon they’re also investigating their own personnel," Co said.
But Office for Transportation Security said they could still perform their duty and vows to put a stop on these incidents besmirching the image and reputation of the agency.
NAIA, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, OTS, Office of Transport Security, security, theft, ANC, ANC promo