(SPOT.ph) How do you solve the string of robberies at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport involving foreigners and security screening officers? The Office for Transportation Security and Manila International Airport Authority have an idea: ban the security screening officers from wearing jackets and uniforms with pockets.
The "no pocket policy," which will be effective next week, came after two foreigners fell victim to robberies inside the airport. On February 22, an Office for Transportation Security (OTS) personnel was caught pocketing 20,000 yen (about P8,000) from a Thai transit passenger at Terminal 2 while another was caught stealing a Chinese passenger's watch while passing through a security checkpoint at Terminal 1 on March 1.
Also read: NAIA, ENHYPEN, and "Unprofessional Behavior": A Short History
“Even though these people manning the screening areas are employees of the OTS and not of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), they still operate [at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport] (NAIA) which we administer. It happened under our roof, so it is critical that we resolve these issues so as not to cause alarm among passengers and affect their confidence to travel to the Philippines. More importantly, it negates all efforts of the MIAA to improve the image of NAIA,” said MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong.
MIAA, which manages NAIA, is a government-owned and controlled organization under the Department of Transportation.
MIAA Ramps Up Security Following NAIA Theft
Aside from the "no pocket policy" for personnel's jackets and uniforms, security personnel who directly interact with passengers won't be allowed to bring bags into their area of assignment, said Chiong.
MIAA also ordered an additional camera to be placed on top of the screening machine at the transit area of Terminal 2 and ordered the removal of film covering the glass panels. It is also reviewing the blind spots across the terminals so they can add more CCTVs.
As for the personnel involved in the robberies, they were relieved from their post and placed under preventive suspension while OTS investigators prepare to file administrative cases against them. They may also face criminal cases, the OTS said.
The security personnel caught stealing from the Chinese passenger was also arrested.
"Our government has been trying to invite tourists and investors to come to the Philippines to pump prime the economy. But these corrupt OTS personnel are undermining and negating the gains of our efforts. [These] corrupt and illegal acts shall not be tolerated to send a strong message that we are serious in cleansing our ranks," the OTS said in a statement.
Read more: Surprise: NAIA Takes Just the 3rd Spot on List of Most Stressful Airports in Asia and Oceania