Transportation Security Office Urges Stringent NAIA Security

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The lack of guards manning exit and entry ways, shortage of personnel conducting bag inspections, airport employees not wearing proper identification cards — these were some initial observations mentioned by the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) after the United States Transportation Security Administration (US-TSA) inspected the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last week.

Commodore Roland Recomono, OTS administrator, related one lapse that the TSA noted.

The TSA inspectors found someone without an expired identification card. They had it renewed right away.

They also spotted entrance and exit points that were not properly guarded. One solution, Recomono said, was to have some of them padlocked.

He added that the TSA inspectors admitted that they themselves have problems because of lack of personnel.

The audit team also checked NAIA’s airline operations (including terminal and ramp access control), security screening, quality control, airport perimeter, command center, and aircraft and cargo operations.

While Recomono added that what the TSA noticed were considered “minor lapses,” he cited that NAIA should also look into improving its employee screening.

Some passengers, meanwhile, said these observations should be taken seriously.

Myrna Rodriguez, for example, suggested that the airport should get more security police officers.

More time to improve

The OTS, on the other hand, gave NAIA authorities time to improve security.

Once the period has lapsed, the OTS will then make another inspection.

If it finds some things that haven’t been corrected, security personnel would be given sanctions — either a fine or maybe even suspension.

Security checks, international standards

The US-TSA holds regular security checks in airports that host airlines flying to the US. Its last inspection at NAIA in November 2013 showed that the airport met international standards.

The TSA has yet to officially submit its findings on last week’s inspection. It also plans to donate X-ray machines that can detect explosives.

In the meantime, workmen have finished repairs on the Terminal 1 ceiling that was damaged because of leaking water from a pipe.

While airport officials are on high alert following the arrest of a Filipino-American citizen who had with him a knife and grenade late May, security measures are in place to prevent the entry of passengers positive for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) after deaths have been reported in South Korea.

Source: Patricia de Leon, CNN Philippines

Bomb Threats: Smart Phones To Be screened Separately At Airports

MANILA, Philippines—The Office for Transport Security on Thursday issued a new directive for all airport screeners to require passengers to remove all electronic gadgets including smart phones from their luggage and screen them separately.

The directive from the OTS, an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), came on the heels of the reports reaching their counterparts in the US that smart phones used by terrorists as explosive devices could pass through airport security undetected.

“Screeners in all our airports were directed to screen all electronic gadgets i.e smart phones, laptops, iPads, cameras with their batteries separately by placing these items on a tray and out of the luggage for X-ray screening,” the OTS said in a statement issued late Thursday afternoon.

The OTS said previously, only laptops were taken out of the passengers’ luggage to subject them to a separate X-ray screening.

“Inspection of electronic gadgets is not a new policy but a precautionary measure we are adopting due to persistent intelligence information on terrorist attempts to blow up aircraft through gadgets of passengers specifically in flights entering the US,” the OTS said.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the US’ Department of Homeland Security recently issued an advisory directing overseas airports with US-bound flights to require passengers to turn on their smart phones before boarding following intelligence information that terrorists have figured out how to turn phones into explosive devices without being detected by airport security scanners.

Jonathan Maliwat, spokesperson for OTS said in a phone interview that in practice, airport officers would ask passengers at random ask to remove the batteries from their phones to make sure that these were not explosive devices.

“The procedure is not new. The airport security personnel have been checking the gadgets of the passengers through profiling (techniques),” Maliwat said.

At present, only the flag-carrier Philippine Airlines offer direct flights to destinations in the US. Other foreign carriers like Delta and the United Airlines have connecting flights in Japan and Guam.

Source: PDI, Niña Calleja