After Netizens’ rightful trouncing of power tripping Rep. John Bertiz, it’s time to look at the other grave issue: the apparent breach of airport security.
Bertiz claims that he confronted the security screener for singling him out when told to take off his shoes for x-raying. Supposedly several Chinese-looking males in line ahead of him had been allowed to walk through the metal detector with footwear on. Insinuated in his story is the notorious “escort service” for foreign VIPs and criminals by crooked Immigration and airport personnel.
Has Manila International Airport general manager Ed Monreal reviewed CCTV recordings to verify Bertiz’ version? If he had, he would have uncovered the perpetrators of human smuggling in his turf. Or, he would have exposed Bertiz to be as big a liar as he is a power abuser.
But two weeks after the airport to-do, caught on CCTV footage that went viral, Monreal has yet to clarify. He was indecisive from the start. When informed of Bertiz’ misconduct, his kneejerk statement was to “wait for what President Duterte or Transport Sec. Art Tugade will tell me to do.” The airport top job is not for the fainthearted. It must not take a boss two days to remove one wayward airplane from the runway-side and a week to normalize operations. Illegal drone fly-bys have been imperiling incoming and outbound jumbos. Disaster can strike anytime.
In contrast the CCTV video of Bertiz’ tirade was downloaded, edited, copied, and posted online unusually fast. Monreal must demand answers. Did only authorized personnel handle the CCTV recording at the MIA electronics center? Was protocol followed? Was his assistant general manager for security and emergency services informed? That the Bertiz episode was spliced is obvious; it begins with his accosting the security screener and ends with his snatching the guy’s ID card and strutting away. It is crucial to find out if CCTV recordings similarly can be tampered to conceal such prevalent airport rackets as “tanim bala” and “bukas bagahe.”
Hushed up by MIA top brass was a recent luggage ransacking. The victim was a congressman’s son-in-law. The passenger had checked in a valise, remembering only inflight that he had left inside it his carry-on backpack. In the backpack were his wife’s engagement and their wedding rings, for repair and cleaning in Hong Kong. He wished nothing untoward would happen during the short flight. His worst fears came true at the baggage claim, when he beheld his valise unzipped and the backpack gone. At once he reported to the HK police, which swiftly reviewed the CCTV tapes. Shown clearly, the valise already was open when it emerged from the plane belly and the baggage carousel chute. It is suspected that the luggage was opened and the backpack filched at the MIA after x-ray screening revealed the valuable contents. Investigating congressmen might want to ask Monreal about it.
There’s one more security flaw, seemingly minor, but which can worsen. The security screener’s ID card was under his jacket, the uploaded video shows. At this point I must stress, in fairness, that I’ve never encountered any misbehaving airport security men; most friskers courteously greet “Good day” and “Thank you” before and after. But ID cards are for display, not concealment; if one must don a jacket, the card must be clipped outside. That dampens the temptation for wrongdoing.
Speaking of which, why did Monreal issue “courtesy passes” like Bertiz’ to hundreds of lawmakers? What makes them such special public servants that they must be accorded VIP treatment compared to the regular airline passengers who pay their salaries from taxes? To how many other thousands of assorted gofers, influence peddlers, and criminals has Monreal given privilege passes?
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Theft big or small is theft. A global hunt is on for one Eddie Llanora, of Ontario, for commercially using the Hotdog hit “Manila” as music for the ad of his house and condo leasing business. It would have been easy and cheap to seek permission, but he chose to breach copyright and ignore official complaints. Now he’s in trouble.
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