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Lawmaker John Bertiz under fire over NAIA 'shoes' video

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – ACTS-OFW Representative John Bertiz is once again under fire, this time after a viral video showed him supposedly refusing to remove his shoes and confronting a security checker at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Bertiz said on Sunday, September 30, that he confronted the security checker because there were Chinese passengers who did not pass through NAIA's security checkpoint. Bertiz, however, has neither confirmed nor denied whether he took off his shoes at NAIA.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Sunday vowed to investigate the incident.

The CCTV video of Bertiz's confrontation with the NAIA security checker was uploaded by various Facebook pages and has since gone viral, with one version getting more than 193,000 views as of Sunday.

In the soundless video, Bertiz passes through a metal detector at the airport when a male security checker appears to tell him to remove his shoes. Other passengers in the video can be seen carrying their shoes when they pass through the metal detector. 

Bertiz then flashes what looks like a white identification card to the security checker, who then turns his head and backs away from the legislator. Bertiz goes near the security checker and flicks on the security checker's jacket, where the latter's ID is found. 

The security checker appears to initially refuse to give his ID to Bertiz, who then snatches the security checker's ID off his jacket. Bertiz then walks out of the camera's frame, while the security checker walks to the opposite direction.

What is Bertiz's side? "Twisted story po. Nabiktima lang ako," Bertiz told Rappler in a text message. (That's a twisted story. I was the one victimized.) 

The lawmaker explained that the incident happened on Saturday morning, September 29, when he was about to fly out to Cebu through NAIA Terminal 2.

He said there were supposedly Chinese passengers escorted by NAIA staff who did not pass through the security checkpoint. Bertiz said this was the reason why he had confronted the security checker. 

The uploaded CCTV footage, however, does not show any Chinese passengers escorted by NAIA employees. 

"Nakakapagtaka na pagkapalusot sa mga Tsino na may escort na NAIA staff eh pinigilan ako [ng security checker] kahit na pinakita ko sa kanya ang NAIA security ID ko at kahit na na-clear na ako sa metal detector at X-ray machine," said Bertiz.

(I wonder why after the Chinese passengers escorted by NAIA staff passed through, the security checker stopped me even if I had already shown him my NAIA security card and I was already cleared by the metal detector and X-ray machine.)

Bertiz believes the security checker supposedly called him out so that he would not be able to go after the Chinese passengers and their NAIA staff escorts.

The lawmaker then questioned how the CCTV video was publicized so fast. He said NAIA requires the police to submit a court clearance whenever the latter requests for CCTV footage from the airport for human trafficking cases. 

"Hinihinala ko na baka kaya hindi nakukunan minsan ng CCTV video ang mga natatanggap kong report ng nakawan at krimen sa NAIA eh dahil malayang napapakialaman...ang mga CCTV camera pati na rin ang CCTV footage," said Bertiz.

(I suspect that the reason why CCTV videos fail to capture theft and other crimes in NAIA is that the NAIA CCTV cameras and footage are being tampered with.)

"Ibig sabihin, baka kapag may krimen na gagawin eh kaya nilang patayin ang CCTV o burahin ang video footage," he added.

(That means, whenever a crime is gong to be committed, they have the capability to turn off the CCTV or delete the video footage.)

Bertiz has already reported the incident to Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal.

What's going to happen next? The DOTr, in a statement Sunday afternoon, said that a thorough investigation into the incident is being conducted.

"All reports, complaints, and actual video footages are now being consolidated and evaluated. Authorities are now studying if any law or protocol has been violated," the DOTr said.

The DOTr also gave assurances that the result of the investigation will be "strictly in accordance [with] existing rules, regulations, and procedures" implemented in the airports.

How did social media users react? Facebook users were unhappy over the incident, with several of them expressing their disappointment through the comments section of the video posted by the Facebook page called gifinoy.

"Pera ng masa ang ikinabubuhay at iniyayabang mo, Cong. Napaka-arogante mo. Trabaho lang ang security, minaliit mo pa. Bastos. No votes [next elections]," said Facebook user Arturo Gloria Alapit.

(You live off of the people's money, Congressman. You're very arrogant. The security personnel are just doing their job, but you belittle them. You're rude. No votes for you in the next elections.)

Screenshot from the gifinoy Facebook page

Another Facebook user, Rizkie-ray Japsonel, was thankful the CCTV footage was able to show how Bertiz acted.

"Nakaka-beast mode ang asal mo, Congressman. Bastos ka. Hindi ka karespe-respeto sa ipinakita mo. Buti na lang may CCTV. [Dapat] maturuan 'to ng leksiyon eh," Japsonel said.

(Congressman, your behavior is infuriating. You're rude. You don't deserve respect, based on how you acted. Good thing there was a CCTV video. People like you should be taught a lesson.)

Less than a week ago, Bertiz also drew flak online for joking that the new batch of agricultural and biosystems engineers would not get their respective licenses from the Professional Regulation Commission if they say that they do not know Special Assistant to the President Bong Go. Bertiz has since apologized. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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