MANILA — The Office for Transportation Security is "enhancing" its baggage inspection procedure to prevent theft by screening personnel, its head said on Saturday.
OTS Administrator Ma.O Aplasca told TeleRadyo Serbisyo that these are being implemented after a baggage screener at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was caught on camera apparently swallowing bills pilfered from a passenger's bag.
"Kung maari, habang nagi-inspeksyon ang aming screening officer ay hindi po siya magbababa ng kamay, magpapasok sa bulsa, at pagkatapos po, dapat ipakita niya na bukas ang kanyang palad," Aplasca said.
(As much as possible, while the screening officer is conducting an inspection, they will not lower their or put them in their pockets. And, afterwards, they have to show that their hands are empty.)
He added screening officers are not allowed to open bags without the passenger watching.
OTS has also asked the Manila International Airport Authority to install a security camera for the inspection area.
Airport security has been in the news in recent days because of a video showing an OTS screener caught on camera appearing to swallow bills that a passenger had reported missing.
Aplasca said the investigation into the incident is ongoing, and at least 4 of 14 personnel at the airport checkpoint may have been involved in the scheme.
He said that OTS also found that personnel involved in similar incidents have discouraged complaints by telling passengers that they might miss their flight while filling out paperwork.
"Dito sa aming kampanya, kahit wala nang complainant, basta may naka-file, talagang sinusundan namin ang investigation," Aplasca said, adding the office is also investigating other thefts done under a similar "general pattern".
(In this campaign, even if the complainant has already left, as long as something was filed, we will really pursue the investigation.)
LONG-TERM PROGRAM TO IMPROVE JOB CONDITIONS
Apart from changes in screening procedure, OTS is also working on raising personnel salaries, which Aplasca said is among the office's "long-term" programs.
He said discussions with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Budget and Management to raise pay are already ongoing.
Entry-level pay at OTS is around P16,000, which, the OTS chief acknowledged is "really low."
He added that of the nearly 3,000 personnel of the OTS, only 300 are regular employees.
The rest are contractual and job-order personnel who get lower pay and do not have access to benefits that government employees get.
"Karamihan sa tao namin, nandoon po sila sa lower pay scale," he said.
(Most of our people are at the lower pay scale.)