2 million passengers expected to flock to NAIA
MANILA (UPDATED) — A ranking police official on Wednesday said there was no need to heighten the security alert across the country for the rest of the Holy Week as there is no threat so far from lawless elements.
"Hindi namin nakikita na kailangan itaas. Wala naman banta mula sa mga masasamang elemento," Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, the deputy chief for administration of the Philippine National Police, said in an interview on Holy Wednesday.
Sermonia says what's important is that people feel the "safety and security plan" that the PNP has laid out for the observance of the Holy Week.
Over 70,000 police personnel would be deployed nationwide for this year's Holy Week, the PNP previously announced.
It has also vowed to enforce maximum police visibility as Filipinos go on vacation or visit their hometowns.
Sermonia made the announcement as he, together with other officials, led the inspection of transport hubs in Metro Manila in light of the anticipated exodus of travelers to the provinces.
He said security is a shared responsibility, and should not be left to the police alone.
"Lagi namin nire-remind 'yung kanilang punong barangay, tanods, ang ating force multipliers, 'yung neighborhood patrols ay napakaimportante," said Sermonia.
"Nire-remind natin sa ating mga kababayan na ibilin nila 'yung mga iniiwan nilang mga bahay at may mga safety tips na rin na alam ng ating mga kababayan so hindi lamang po 'yung mga places of convergence kung di 'yung mga bahay na iniwan nila pati 'yung mga business establishments," he also said.
At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) alone, authorities expect a total of 2 million passengers for the entire Holy Week.
"It's expected up to [the] weekend we will be reaching the passengers [count] of around 2 million. As of this time maybe we can just have the latest update mamayang hapon but definitely 2 million is the expected dito sa NAIA," Manuel Gonzales, Manila International Airport Authority assistant general manager for Security and Emergency Services, said on Wednesday morning.
The Office for Transportation Security pledged 50 of its personnel to take over baggage feeders and passenger controllers. Another 100 personnel would be redeployed to the passenger screening point.
The Bureau of Immigration will deploy 63 temporary immigration officers coming from the main office to manage the long queues.
But the MIAA advised passengers to complete their eTravel registration online prior to arrival to expedite the processing at the immigration and quarantine gates.
Passengers are also advised to personally pack their bags and ensure they do not bring prohibited items to avoid delays at screening checkpoints.
More than 2.2 million people, meantime, are forecast to flock to seaports during the same period.
The Department of Health (DOH) meanwhile said hospitals have been alerted should medical emergencies arise from transport hubs.
DOH Assistant Secretary Gloria Balboa gave the assurance as she joined the inspection from bus terminals in Araneta Center and EDSA-Cubao, Manila North Port in Tondo, the DLTB bus terminal in Pasay, NAIA Terminal 3 and Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX).
"Kung mayroong mangyari, lalo ngayon mainit ang panahon, nahilo, nag-collapse diyan, so although meron tayong first aid team doon, kung kinakailangan dalhin sa ospital meron available na ambulance na magdadala doon sa ospital. Na-coordinate na rin 'yan sa ating mga hospitals," Balboa said.
Metro Manila's police office said security preparations for the Holy Week will be extended during the entire dry season when many Filipinos travel for vacation.
"We are ready din sa pagbabalik ng mga vacationers itong summer," said Maj. Gen. Edgar Allan Okubo, chief of the PNP National Capital Region Office.
Police visibility will continue until travelers return to their homes, Okubo added.
— with a report from Jeck Batallones, ABS-CBN News