MANILA, Philippines – During security checks in Philippine airports, screening officers should inspect bags or luggage only in the presence of the passenger carrying them, Office for Transportation Security (OTS) administrator Mao Aplasca said on Wednesday, March 1.
Aplasca said this in an interview on News5 following the embarrassing incident of OTS personnel who allegedly stole cash from a Thai tourist passing through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) transfer station on February 22.
In that incident, he pointed out that the security staff did not request the Thai tourist to open his bag, which is only done when the personnel is doubtful of its contents.
“Hindi po puwedeng buksan ‘yung bag ‘pag hindi po nakatingin ‘yung may-ari nung bag (Bags shouldn’t be opened if its owner is not looking),” he said.
Aplasca said this is the international standard on conducting carry-on bag inspections.
The incident was initially captured in two videos by another Thai national, Piyawat Gunlayaprasit. In the first video, one OTS staff member at the security screening checkpoint is seen inserting what looks to be bills in another OTS staff member’s pocket.
The second video shows OTS personnel returning ¥20,000 or P8,000 to Thai tourist Kitja Thabthim while pleading with him to “delete the video.”
How it’s done in some countries
Airports have different systems when it comes to screening passengers and their bags, but similar procedures are followed when it comes to manual inspection of carry-on bags by airport security personnel.
According to the websites of the United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), and the Australian Department of Government Affairs, passengers are advised to place carry-on bags in trays or bins that go through an X-ray machine. Security officers will only conduct a physical bag check if it triggers an alarm at the X-ray machine.
In Canada, CATSA’s website says that a partial or full physical search of a passenger’s bag is done if it triggers an alarm at the walk-through detector. However, there are instances when bags are randomly chosen for a physical search.
The websites of Hongkong International Airport and Singapore’s Changi Airport also state that passengers should be the ones to place their carry-on bags in trays for X-ray screening. Passengers and bags will only be subjected to enhanced screening when required.
After last week’s incident, Aplasca said they assigned new staff from the OTS central office to better supervise the operations at NAIA. – Rappler.com
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