Authorities at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) said that it will amplify its security measures following a series of passenger theft incidents carried out by airport staff.
The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said that it denounced the “pocketing of money and the stealing of a watch” by Office for Transportation Security (OTS) Security Screening Officers in two separate incidents.
On February 22, 2023, a female security screening officer was caught on video taking cash from a Thai tourist worth P8,000 ($ 145.00) then giving it to a colleague who was manning the X-ray machine at the airport’s Terminal 3.
Five screening officers were later relieved from duty after the incident.
On March 1, 2023, another airport security screening officer was arrested after security footage showed him taking a watch from a Chinese passenger at the airport’s Terminal 1.
Officials said that the officer took the watch while the passenger was going through the X-ray machine for security screening.
The officer is now in the custody of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group for further questioning.
“Even though these people manning the screening areas are employees of the OTS and not of the MIAA, they still operate in NAIA which we administer,” MIAA general manager Cesar Chiong said in a statement seen by local media.
“It happened under our roof, so it is critical that we resolve these issues so as not to cause alarm among passengers and affect their confidence to travel to the Philippines. More importantly, it negates all efforts of the MIAA to improve the image of NAIA,” Chiong added.
On March 2, 2023, the MIAA said that one of its measures to intensify airport security is to implement a “no pocket policy” in the uniform and jackets of security personnel.
The MIAA also ordered the installation of an additional camera above the screening machines at the transit area of the airport’s Terminal 2, and also removing a film that is said to cover glass panels, obscuring the transparency of the security screening procedure.
In December 2022 and January 2023, a number of Filipinos living overseas who visited the Philippines for the holidays reported that their personal belongings had been stolen.
Notoriously known for scams and stressful experiences, Manila airport is considered the third most stressful airport in Asia.