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MANILA, Philippines – The country’s 42 commercial airports have been placed under heightened security alert on Friday, October 6, after airport officials received bomb threats, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.
“All 42 commercial airports of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) are on heightened alert as of today, October 6, following a warning received by the Air Traffic Service via email that aircrafts from Manila, bound to Puerto Princesa, Mactan-Cebu, Bicol, and Davao International Airports are about to be set off by a bomb,” CAAP said in a statement on Friday.
“While the information is currently under validation, immediate enhanced security measures are being implemented across all airports,” it added.
Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista said patrols and K9 units were deployed at all terminals of Manila’s international airport and law enforcement agencies were coordinating closely.
“There are no expected impact to any scheduled flights and we would like to ensure the traveling public that protocols are in place to ensure everyone’s safety and security,” he said in a statement.
On October 4, Ricardo Banayat, Assistant Director General II of the CAAP Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), issued a memorandum to CAAP airports and area centers, instructing their officials to “augment adequate security personnel to manage the expected high volume of passengers and vehicle traffic” and to undertake other security measures, CAAP said.
“Stringent access control procedures for both personnel and vehicles will be implemented, accompanied by thorough inspections of passengers and cargo. CAAP-CSIS personnel are collaborating closely with the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP) and military authorities, intensifying intelligence and monitoring operations with other security units,” CAAP said.
CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio told Rappler on Friday that the heightened alert was issued following a string of bomb threats against the country’s airports.
On October 2, the Bicol International Airport was shut down for hours after a crumpled piece of paper with the word “BOMB??” was found onboard a Cebu Pacific flight. The next day, on October 3, Philippine National Police officers engaged with suspected New People’s Army rebels near the Bicol airport again.
In the early hours of October 4, CAAP received an anonymous email warning about bombs on airplanes to NAIA and other airports that were set to go off. This prompted CAAP to raise security measures.
Apolonio told Rappler that the agency decided to announce the heightened alert status on October 6, to avoid causing panic among the public. The country’s airports continue to operate normally, he stressed.
CAAP said that it will hold airport security coordination meetings with stakeholders “to ensure the strict implementation of security measures aimed at preventing any unlawful interference with civil aviation.”
CAAP advised passengers who will travel abroad to be at the airport at least three hours before their scheduled flight to avoid any inconvenience.
“We also urge the public to cooperate fully with security personnel and to remain vigilant while at the airport. Safety and security remain our top priorities, and these measures are being taken to safeguard all those who use our airports,” CAAP said. – With reports from Lance Yu, Reuters/Rappler.com