2016 World’s Busiest Airports

Image Source: Airports Council International. Ninoy Aquino International Airport is ranked 47th.

NAIA PPP Project

After the successful awarding of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport PPP, it is now the turn of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

So far, three local companies have expressed interest in bidding for the Php. 74.6 billion contract to modernize and operate Manila’s NAIA. Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, San Miguel Corporation and Ayala Corporation are eyeing the country’s most coveted airport PPP project.

Image result for ramon ang


Ramon Ang, president and chief operating officer of SMC, said Wednesday that they planned to join the bid. “We will join all the bidding [of PPPs] to support the government,” Ang said.

Rene Almendras, Ayala managing director and CEO of AC Infrastructure Holdings, said the group was studying the project.

“We are definitely looking at it,” Almendras said. “I met a few foreign partners abroad. So there are many people who will be looking. We want to make sure we put a good team. It’s a complex project, an international gateway.”

The NAIA development project was initially planned under the Aquino administration. The National Economic and Development Authority board approved the project only last week.

In its initial version under the Aquino administration, the NAIA development project was aimed at transforming the Philippines’ main gateway “into a world-class modern airport facility.” The private partner was also expected to upgrade existing terminals to increase capacity and handle operations and maintenance activities.

Apart from the NAIA PPP, the government also plans to pursue a PPP to develop and modernize the Bacolod-Silay, Iloilo, Davao, Laguindingan and New Bohol airports in a deal that has lured San Miguel Corp., Metro Pacific, Aboitiz, JG Summit and Megawide Construction Corporation apart from international players.

In 2013, most of the country’s largest conglomerates participated in a bidding for the contract to expand and operate the Mactan Cebu International Airport, which was bagged by a consortium between Megawide and India’s GMR Infrastructure.

Source: Miguel R. Camus, PDI.


Metro Pacific To Bid for NAIA PPP

Metro Pacific Investments Corporation expressed interest in bidding for the P74.5-billion contract to operate and maintain Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3

“Yes, I heard about it…We are discussing. We will look at it. We don’t know the terms yet obviously,” Pangilinan, Metro Pacific chairman, told reporters over the weekend.

The National Economic and Development Authority board headed by President Rodrigo Duterte approved last September 14 the NAIA project, which involves awarding a 15-year to 20-year concession to the private sector to improve, operate and maintain the four terminals of NAIA.

Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation and Airports Robert Lim said the agency was in the process of finalizing the terms for the bidding of redevelopment, operation and maintenance of NAIA. “By January next year, we will release the advertisement to invite interested companies to bid in the project,” Lim said.

Other companies also expressed interest in joining the bidding. “We are very interested in the Naia when that is privatized,” Aboitiz Equity Ventures president and chief executive Erramon Aboitiz said earlier.

The private partner of the Naia PPP project will improve, upgrade and enhance the operational efficiencies of all existing terminals covering both landside and airside (except air traffic services) to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization standards and develop the main gateway airport of the Philippines.

It is a project of the Transportation Department and Manila International Airport Authority. The NAIA PPP project was one of nine projects approved by NEDA costing Php. 171.14 billion.

Source: Alena Mae S. Flores, http://thestandard.com.ph/



China Airlines flight CI 702 from MNL to Taipei was canceled due to bird strike. The dead bird was found embedded in the left wing flap of the China Airlines Boeing 747-400 when the aircraft landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

Image Source: Rudy Santos

The “wounded bird” was eventually grounded pending investigation and repair of the aircraft.

Image Source: Rudy Santos

NAIA: Screening Equipment Missing

ABOUT P67-million worth of security screening equipment procured by the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other airports around the country last year appears to have disappeared.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

In 2015, the OTS—a Department of Transportation and Communications-attached agency—bought eight full-body scanners for P48 million and eight electromagnetic analyzers (EMA) or bottled liquid scanners for P19.2 million from Singapore.

The state of the art equipment were to beef up security at the NAIA terminals and the Mactan-Cebu and Davao international airports but not one of the screening machines was installed.

The old full body scanners currently at the NAIA—which are reportedly hardly used—were bought earlier by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) from Germany.

In February last year, the OTS bought eight full body scanners at a cost of P6 million each.

A source, who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak, told the Inquirer the scanners were not installed at the NAIA because they were “lemons.”

A MIAA official, when asked about the matter by the Inquirer said: “You should ask the OTS where they stowed them away.”

The OTS claimed the scanners were distributed to airports around the country.

DOTC-OTS spokesperson Jonathan Maliwat earlier said the body scanners were delivered to the international airports at Clark, Laoag, Kalibo, Iloilo and Mactan-Cebu.

But Kalibo and Mactan-Cebu airport officials said they never received the scanners.

The DOTC-OTS had also announced in March last year it would install P19.2-million worth of EMA or bottled liquid scanners at Naia and other airports.

Several OTS personnel, however, said they had yet to lay their eyes on the high-tech scanners.

“Some of us were trained to use them (EMA). But we haven’t seen any of them here,” an OTS security screening officer at NAIA Terminal 1 told the Inquirer.

The Inquirer learned that none of the liquid analyzers were installed at the NAIA terminals, although Maliwat had claimed they were to be set up at the terminals’ checkpoints.

The Inquirer tried to question OTS officials about what happened to the multimillion-peso screening equipment but they either denied knowledge of them or refused to answer questions.

Source: Jeannette Andrade, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net


Cebu Pacific & MIAA To Build Aircraft Parking Bay


MANILA International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Cebu Pacific officials led the ground breaking Tuesday of a 2.5-hectare aircraft parking bay at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The envisioned parking bay is located at NAIA’s South General Aviation Area, formerly Flight Operations Briefing Station.

Once completed, the parking bay can accommodate approximately four to six Airbus A320-family aircraft, helping ease up movement at other terminal bays in the airport.

MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and Engr. Ricardo Medalla, NAIA Terminal 3 Manager, graced the groundbreaking ceremony together with the CEB management committee.


“We are very grateful to the MIAA and relevant government authorities for allowing us to develop and utilize the South General Aviation Area for aircraft parking. This area supplements the space requirement of our growing fleet and will contribute to the optimization of our ground operations,” CEB President and CEO Lance Gokongwei said.

CEB’s 57-strong fleet is comprised of seven Airbus A319, 36 Airbus A320, six Airbus A330, and eight ATR 72-500 aircraft.

Between 2016 and 2021, CEB said it expects delivery of two more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 Airbus A321neo, and 16 ATR 72-600 aircraft.

CEB flies to over 90 routes and 64 destinations, spanning Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and the United States.

Source: Sun Star Manila (SDR/Sunnex)

PH Foils Iranian Revolutionary Guards Plot to Hijack Saudia

Philippine authorities have foiled a bid to hijack a Saudi Arabian Airlines plane at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

According to Manila Bulletin, the authorities thwarted the plan and seized secret documents that confirm the plot. Apparently, 10 conspirators (Iranian Revolutionary Guards) left Iran on separate flights and arrived in several South East Asian countries via Turkey. The hijack plot is to be executed in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

As a precaution, the Saudi Embassy in MNL asked airport authorities to install screening devices and tighten security procedures for passengers traveling on Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines). A spokesman for Saudia said that the company gives top priority to aircraft security and are also working with other agencies.

“We are in constant contact with all stakeholders to ensure the safety of aircraft and its passengers. Security is an international responsibility.” he added.

Source: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO, http://www.arabnews.com

Clark Int’l Airport Holds Key for PH to Reap Rewards of Ballooning Air Traffic


Developing the Clark International Airport as a premier global gateway is a shared responsibility—meaning there should be concerted efforts and coordination between the government and the private sector—as its success would mean the decongestion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), a development that would be felt across sectors.

Aside from developing land transportation, developing a new runway and building support infrastructure, government agencies must also open satellite offices near the area to make the processing of travel documents for overseas Filipino workers faster.

“Most of the passengers [who] fly out of Clark are overseas workers. We wanted the support of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration for them to have satellite offices here at Clark,” Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) President Emigdio P. Tanjuatco III said.

Cebu Pacific Spokesman Paterno S. Mantaring agreed, saying that this takes away the pain of traveling to Manila that passengers from the North have to experience just to process their papers.

“Relevant agencies have also discussed the need to establish a one-stop government center in Clark, to provide easy access to basic government services for air passengers, especially overseas Filipino workers,” he said.

Mantaring added: “This will ensure that passengers departing out of Clark would be able to secure all necessary requirements or permits for domestic or international travel without delay, while guests arriving in Clark for business or leisure would be able to continue with their onward flights, i.e., via Manila, at the soonest possible time.”

‘No cure for NAIA’

Local carriers must also be willing to give Clark a second chance, as this would eventually entice passengers to use the airport and fill the gap between the supply and demand.

To do this, the government may dangle incentives to airlines that are willing and able to move out from the NAIA to Clark.

“Clark can accommodate at least an additional 100 weekly flights today, which can double every year and handle all flight frequencies in five years in a phased transfer of international flights during the period. The airport and transport authorities can mandate this in an official air-transportation policy that they may enunciate. Although they need much political will to do it,” said Avelino L. Zapanta, an aviation expert . “They can dangle incentives to the first airlines to volunteer to transfer.  Many would soon be willing to transfer anyway rather than not be able to expand services in Manila.”

The five-year phased transfer will require at least six things, he added.

“Clark needs a fourth terminal, the one they have already in blueprint that can handle 80 million passengers a year, which will make Clark an aerotropolis; a third one for low-cost carriers had been approved and is supposed to commence construction in 2016,” he said.

He added that the airport needs a third runway at the opposite side of the aerodrome to allow simultaneous take-off and landing of wide-body aircraft, and also to allow the Airbus A380s to operate there. The third requirement is the construction of a high-speed railway line that will connect Clark and NAIA to allow for connecting flights.

“Fourth is to encourage the operation of helicopter city hopper to connect Clark, particularly with Metro Manila, so that high-end passengers would have an alternative faster transfer service; business executives can even be arranged to land on top of the high-rise building they’d go to in the central business districts,” Zapanta said.

The last two are the establishment of terminals for buses, rent-a-car services, and limousine transfers; and the strengthening of domestic-to-international transfer services.

“Whether we like it or not, Clark will become an international gateway because there is no cure for the congestion of NAIA except Clark,” he said.

Building high-speed railway

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio A. Abaya said these recommendations are currently being looked at by his agency. The general direction for Clark, according to him, is for the government to improve its capacity to accommodate further growth.

“The National Economic and Development Authority Board approved the Clark International Airport New Passenger Terminal Building Project last September. Right now, we are about to bid out the detailed engineering design for the development of this passenger terminal building. This project is part of the Clark master plan, which was developed by Aéroports de Paris,” he said.

The new terminal will be done in three phases: the first phase will have an annual passenger capacity of 3 million. It will then be increased to 5 million during the second phase, and eventually to 8 million in the final phase.

Abaya added that the government is also trying to address the need for faster connectivity by constructing a high-speed railway that will connect the northern and southern Luzon.

“In terms of accessibility, there is a long-term plan to extend railway operations in the north through the North-South Rail Project. Phase 1 will be the P171-billion Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-Official Development Assistance project that will connect Metro Manila to Malolos in Bulacan; and Phase 2 will be handled by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority that will connect Malolos to Clark International Airport,” he said.

This, however, will come only in the next five years, according to a timeline provided by Abaya’s office.

Clark vs Sangley

While Clark has been perceived as a Band-Aid solution for Naia’s woes, the development of a new airport based in Sangley Point in Cavite is seen as the long-term answer to the chronic mess at Manila’s main gateway.

The transportation department recently received a pre-feasibility study from the JICA that lists the possible locations of the new airport. The study pinpointed two Cavite-based locations, called Sangley 1A and 1B. As to the official location that will be endorsed by JICA, the transport chief can only speculate.

Whichever the site will be, the statesman noted, however, his camp will be forwarding it to the country’s chief economic-planning body, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Board.

Sangley 1A is in the same site as the naval station in Cavite. The other one is near the central Manila Bay, between the military base and a reclaimed area.

The first option will cost both the government and a private-sector partner less than the second choice. The first one only costs $10 billion, while the other is pegged at around $13 billion.

The future airport will boast of four runways, which can handle 700,000 aircraft movements per year. It will have a rated capacity of 130 million passengers annually.

The deal is expected to be implemented under the government’s key infrastructure program, mixed with funding from official development assistance. Commercial operations of the new air hub should start by 2025, just about 10 years from now.

“Sangley came up only with Abaya apparently because it is in his district in Cavite. Clark has always been the subject of development since Fidel V. Ramos’s time. I prefer Clark. Sangley’s reclamation need is huge and will impede commercial shipping traffic in/out Manila Bay, among many other disadvantages,” Zapanta said.

Philippine Airlines President Jaime J. Bautista added that given the amount of time that the government needs to construct a new airport, it is but wiser to consider Clark first before Sangley.

“Sangley is a good plan. But it will take time, right? It will take about 10 years to 15 years to be completed. In the meantime, let’s fix Clark first,” he said.

For his part, Cebu Pacific’s Mantaring said his camp is more excited with the soon-to-be-built Sangley Airport.

“To cater to travelers used to Manila, it would be ideal to develop a new airport closer to the capital city, while forging ahead with the continuous development and improvement of NAIA. In particular, Cebu Pacific looks forward to the optimization of the NAIA runways with the development of rapid exit taxiways, which will allow up to two more aircraft movements per hour and significantly reduce consequential flight delays,” he said.

He added: “Cebu Pacific also highly anticipates the commencement of air-traffic navigation services from British firm Nats Services Ltd., which aim to boost hourly air-traffic movements to 60 from its current 40 limit. NAIA and Sangley Point remain more accessible to travelers from Manila, and would greatly benefit from the government’s proposed expansion projects.”

Triple airport strategy

American Chamber of Commerce Senior Advisor John D. Forbes and European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines External Vice President Henry J. Schumacher both agreed that developing Clark instead of Sangley is the best option for the Philippines.

“We support the dual-airport policy. Clark has been marginalized for two decades. With NAIA now at capacity, the government must be more serious about using Clark,” Forbes said. “Sangley and any other NAIA replacement is unlikely for 15 years. Unless Clark and other international airports are used more, tourist arrivals cannot meet targets.” The dual-airport strategy calls for the simultaneous development of both Clark and NAIA.

“We support the dual-airport strategy. We believe budget flight, including part of Cebu Pacific, should be moved to Clark. This will require a fast transit bus or rail system. If it will work on Edsa from Quezon City to Makati, the bus transit could be extended to Clark,” Schumacher said.

But for Philippines AirAsia President Joy D. Cañeba, there is no reason for the government not to develop both airports at once.

“Clark is already a viable airport. Let’s develop this first; but there is no reason for us to develop only one or two major airports as the demand for air travel has grown exponentially and the growth is forecast to continue with increasing low-cost airline operations and the expanding middle class and the Philippines is losing opportunities if we do not start building, expanding and improving airports now,” she said.

The transport chief, for his part, said the government will be keen on developing all three airports to reap the benefits of the ballooning domestic and international traffic volumes.

“The government is developing Clark and is, likewise, going to develop a new Manila international airport. The short- to medium- term plan is to develop NAIA via public-private partnership to expand its capacity in order to meet projected throughput until 2037, which is estimated at 51.4 million passengers per annum. The proposal is for a 15- to 20-year concession under an operate-rehabilitate-add-transfer scheme at an estimated cost of over P120 billion,” he said.

This project, expected to be completed by 2017, is still for the approval of the Neda Board.

“We are developing Clark by building a new passenger terminal building, which will eventually increase its capacity to 8 million passengers annually. In the long term, JICA is finishing its site-location study on the new Manila International Airport,” he said.

But with all these only expected to be completed in a matter of decades, the Philippines will continue to lose its potential passengers to its neighbors in the region.

SOURCE: Lorenz S. Marasigan, http://www.businessmirror.com.ph

Clark Int’l Airport Holds Key For PH to Reap Rewards of Ballooning Air Traffic

First of Three Parts (Authored by Lorenz S. Marasigan, http://www.businessmirror.com.ph)

DOMESTIC and international air traffic volumes in the Philippines have ballooned over the past decade averaging 10% annually since 2005. While seemingly a positive development, this is still seen as both a boon and a bane to the rising tiger of Asia.

The increased volume means an upward tick in revenues from tourism, one of the growth drivers of the country’s local output. But with airport facilities remaining as they were 10 years before, the Philippines will continue to carry that stigma of having one of the worst airports in the world, no thanks to runway and terminal congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), such a
situation places the Philippines at the losing end, with potential revenues from traffic lost to other hubs in the region.

“Recent trends suggest that capacity constraints are resulting in traffic being lost to other regional hubs, rather than being recaptured by Clark International Airport, to the detriment of the economy of the Philippines,” it said.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expects the NAIA to handle some 37.78 million passengers this year, way beyond its 30-million annual passenger capacity and a few notches up from its maximum capacity of 35 million passengers per year.

With this on the table, the government has moved to address the looming problem of accommodating more passengers and airplanes in Manila. One of these initiatives involve the construction of an airport that will replace NAIA down the line.

This airport, however, will only be built by 2025—at least according to estimates given by JICA, if the current government opts to have the project rolling during its term.

The loophole to this equation, according to Avelino L. Zapanta, an aviation expert, is that Manila will continue to see its numbers rising, averaging at a tenth every year, and yet, capacity will remain the same.

Such a scenario will lead to delayed and canceled flights, longer queues and even warmer terminals.

Instead of waiting for this to happen, the government, he said, should consider the dual-airport strategy of developing Clark International Airport and NAIA.

“I have advocated the use of Clark as international or domestic gateway and the Naia for purely domestic gateway as means to decongest NAIA overnight. But the transportation department is not listening,” Zapanta said.

The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), he said, is too engrossed with the idea of building an airport in Sangley Point, Cavite, a prospect that will only materialize in a decade, at the fastest.

“It is enamored with developing Sangley as a new international airport. But our problem is here now and its solution is for long term —2025 in their view; much longer in mine. Clark can handle all international operation in a five-year phased transfer of foreign airlines and local airlines doing international operations with some accompanying developments,” he said.

Highly Underutilized

Clark International Airport Corp. President Emigdio P. Tanjuatco III said the airport is currently underutilized, with about 870,000 passengers accommodated in 2014, way below its rated capacity of 4 million passengers per year.

“At any given hour, we are too underutilized. Slotting is not a problem in Clark, we have a lot of slots,” he said. “For example, while the 3 p.m. time slot, which is one of the most sought-after slot, for  the NAIA is already full, Clark can still accommodate operations at that hour.”

Currently, there are only seven airlines operating out of Clark. Of the figure, only one, Cebu Pacific, is a local carrier serving a few international and local flights.

“Compared to the NAIA, which averages at around 42 flight movements per hour, we can easily distribute slots to airlines, because we still have a lot of capacity,” Tanjuatco said.

The airport in the north, formerly known as Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, has two 3,200-meter parallel runways equipped with various navigational aids and lighting facilities, rated the highest for precision approach by the US Federal Aviation Authority. It has a single terminal with an annual capacity of 4 million passengers per year, but plans to construct a P7.2-billion terminal is now in the works.

Clark was envisioned to be the future primary international gateway of the Philippines once  the NAIA reaches its full capacity and when the main airport can no longer expand. It was envisioned to be an aerotropolis —an aviation city—with businesses and industries moving in to the former US airfield. Former President Fidel V. Ramos ordered the development of Clark to be a premier gateway to the Philippines, with capacity expansions envisioned to reach 14 million passengers by 1998.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority crafted a master plan for the development of the airport, but unfortunately, the plan remained on paper and never materialized.

Despite this setback, Clark’s facilities, Tanjuatco said, can still accommodate the projected 6 million passengers that Clark would have accommodated, if only there were more commercial operations out of the airport.

“According to a market study that we conducted, there are about 6 million potential passengers within the area last year. It would have been more practical for them if they flew out of Clark, but there were limited flights,” he said.

These potential customers, Tanjuatco said, reside in Central and Northern Luzon. Clark, he said, can serve the two regions, part of Southern Tagalog and the National Capital Region.

“There is a market for Clark. Central and Northern Luzon has a population of about 23 million. Calabarzon and the National Capital Region, likewise, have almost the same. We can serve them. The catchment area of Clark last year is 6 million passengers, but 5 million flew out of NAIA. The rest flew out of Clark. If only there were flights out of Clark, then we could have served the 5 million passengers from here,” he explained.

Zapanta added that such a catchment area is at least 75 percent of Metro Manila, hence, Clark is really a viable option. “The market is North and Central Luzon—developing as tourism areas already.  The combined volume of these catchment areas is at least 75 percent of Metro Manila, also North Metro Manila, which has faster access to Clark compared to the Naia,” he said.

But despite this, the government and local carriers are still much focused on the capital airport, as it is nearer to the central business districts of Makati City and Bonifacio Global City when compared to Clark.

Hence, the problem, according to a 2011 JICA report on Philippine airports, lies on the lack of proper planning and asset utilization.

“There is strong growth in demand for greater capital region air travel. Despite capacity constraints at NAIA and available capacity at Clark, airlines and passengers continue to focus on NAIA,” it said.

Chicken and Egg

Improving Clark’s margins is a chicken-and-egg situation, Tanjuatco lamented.

“Increasing flights out of Clark is really an airline decision. Airlines will always look for the lucrative destinations to add to their networks. The disadvantage of Clark versus Boracay and Davao is that these latter two are already destinations in themselves. Clark is not much of a destination, that’s why we are pushing for tourism in the north to also be heightened,” he said.

The president of the airport also acknowledged the need of airlines to see returns from millions of pesos in investments in a route.

“Expanding the operations in Clark is a chicken-and-egg situation. At one hand, you have passengers that are looking for flights. On the other are airlines looking for passengers,” he said. “But we have enough passengers to have a lucrative business for the airlines—that’s what they have to see.”

Local airlines, however, are not too convinced with this argument.

Source: Lorenz S. Marasigan, http://www.businessmirror.com.ph

Aquino Not Convinced on ‘tanim-bala’

SPEAKING for the first time on the infamous bullet-planting controversy at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), President Aquino said he doubted an organized “tanim-bala” extortion scheme existed.

And just like his Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, who earlier drew widespread condemnation for dismissing the questionable arrest of passengers as merely a small percentage of the total number of air travelers, Mr. Aquino likewise downplayed the controversy by citing similar statistics.

“How many people pass through the NAIA per year? The figure is 34 million. How many of those were involved in a bullet case? What they reported out of the 34 million is 1,200 incidents,” the President said in a press conference Sunday night in Kuala Lumpur where he attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

“Medyo ang liit naman yata (That seems a little small),” he told reporters.

He said he was told of three passengers who complained that airport personnel had tried to extort money from them to drop illegal possession of ammunition charges so they could board their flight.

One of the three eventually admitted the bullet found in his bag was his, Mr. Aquino said.

“If the report that three out of three million is true, how can we say there is an epidemic—that there is a high probability you will get into trouble or that you can say there is a chance you will fall victim to the racket?” the President said.

He said he felt bad for the innocent airport security scanners who were doing their jobs and had actually intercepted firearms and ammunition in other incidents at the airport.

“I have to balance it. In the end [we need] proof. Is there proof that will confirm or deny the tanim-bala scam?” the President said.

But he said he also felt bad for the passengers.

“So I am not saying there is no such [scam]. That is what should come out in the investigation. But those are the initial statistics,” he said.

He then accused the media of sensationalizing the news on the tanim-bala cases.

“Like out of 10 (people) who will go to the airport, how many will be victimized? For every 10—two, three? That is not what happened. It was sensationalized and there were those who benefited to sensationalize it,” he said.

“Those who thought of this, we will include them in the investigation,” he added.

Meanwhile, the initial police investigation into the tanim-bala scam at the airport practically debunked it as an “urban legend.”

“There is no such thing as tanim-bala, there is only extortion,” a source from the Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup) told the Inquirer.

“It is just not possible for a security screener to carry bullets in his pocket and plant them in passengers’ baggage. Sleight of hand is out of the question. Nobody’s that fast or that bold,” he said, adding that the Avsegroup had not found proof of tanim-bala.

A review of closed circuit TV footage of the security checkpoints showed no evidence of the scheme, he said.

The source, who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the surge in supposed bullet interceptions was due to a reward system put in place by the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

He also pointed out that in many of the cases, the passengers admitted carrying the bullets either as souvenirs, mementos or talismans.

“Unscrupulous OTS personnel jump at this chance and extort cash from these passengers who do not want to be inconvenienced by a trip to the police station and risk missing their flights,” the source explained.

OTS Deputy Administrator Robert Villanueva said the agency did set up a system of citation for security screening officers aimed at improving their efficiency and boosting their morale.

“Awardees are given certificates of commendation and cash,” he said.

Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, meanwhile, has agreed to extend by 15 days the deadline given to the National Bureau of Investigation task force investigating the tanim-bala incidents at the Naia.

Source: Dona Z. Pazzibugan, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net