Duterte to fire airport officials if luggage theft cases continue

Pia Ranada
Duterte to fire airport officials if luggage theft cases continue
President Rodrigo Duterte personally apologizes to a victim of luggage theft and, in typical rhetoric, threatens to 'kill' erring airport personnel if it happens again

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte personally apologized to a victim of luggage theft and said he would fire airport officials if similar cases of theft happen again.

Duterte met with overseas Filipino workers Jovinal dela Cruz on Thursday, January 18, at the Malacañang Golf Clubhouse. (READ: 6 charged in OFW luggage theft incident in Clark)

Also present were airport officials, including Clark International Airport Corporation acting president and CEO Alexander Cauguiran.

“The next time, if it happens, I will fire you.That’s for sure. As long as it happens again, stealing or what, I will fire you,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino, based on a Malacañang transcript.

Duterte apologized to Dela Cruz and also demanded that airport officials make a public apology themselves.

“I deeply apologize. We will pay whatever your losses,” said Duterte.

According to Cauguiran, Dela Cruz had been compensated for the items stolen. Miascor, whose employees had admitted to looting Dela Cruz’s luggage at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga earlier this month, paid the OFW P82,824.

Cauguiran also said ground handling firm Miascor had terminated its 6 personnel involved in the incident and had filed theft charges against them.

Duterte, in language typical of him, suggested just having the erring personnel “killed.”

Patayin mo na lang…Patayin mo na lang para malaman ng tao na ‘yun ang [inaudible],” said the President.

(Just kill them…Just kill them so people will know [inaudible].)

Convinced that no compensation for victims can make up for their experience at the hands of abusive airport personnel, Duterte said he might just take matters into his own hands.

“‘Pag hindi, parusahan ko kayo. Kung hindi ninyo gawin, ako ang papatay diyan. Isa-salvage (If not, I will punish you. If you don’t do it, I will be the one to kill),” the President said.

Such violent language is typical of the President when he talks about the treatment of OFWs and the issues they face.

At the height of the “tanim bala” (bullet-planting) controversy at Philippine airports in 2015, Duterte, then Davao City mayor, declared he would make airport employees “eat” bullets they plant in the luggage of unsuspecting airplane passengers. 

Meanwhile, Ed Monreal, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority, announced on Friday that the government will not renew Miascor’s ground handling contract in the country’s airports following the “series” of luggage thefts allegedly involving its personnel. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.