By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola
Senator Ralph Recto on Saturday urged the creation of “presidential action desks” in the country’s major airports to address concerns of air travelers and curb petty crimes inside terminals.
He made the call in the wake of reports of baggage pilfering at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga, which prompted President Duterte to order the immediate termination of the contract with its ground service provider MIASCOR Aviation Services.
Recto said the establishment of a Palace detachment in major airports will create a “fear factor” and will deter irregularities since it carries the presidential seal. The senator even suggested a name for such an action center.
“Eh di ba, ang uso ngayon isumbong kay Tatay Digong? Kung ganoon, maglagay na doon sa mga paliparan ng ‘DAD’ – Duterte Action Desk, para lahat ng reklamo oramismo maaksyunan (Since ‘Tatay Digong’ is famous nowadays, why don’t we put up a ‘DAD’ – Duterte Action Desk – in airports so that complaints could be acted upon right away),” Recto said in a statement.
“For those flying in from abroad who have lost their belongings, we don’t know if the stealing was done here or outside the country. But at the very least, there should be a help desk that victims can go to,” he added.
Recto said the DAD could also receive feedback from passengers for services rendered in terminals.
He likewise called on the government use its “huge income” from air travel to invest on measures, like CCTVs and body cameras, against airport syndicates that target passengers. He appealed to keep passenger belongings “safe, intact, and protected.”
“Maybe, we can install CCTVs in areas where baggage passes through. If warranted, body cameras should be attached on handlers. Let’s do that, since these are affordable,” he said.
Meanwhile, workers transporting baggage from the aircraft to the build-up station and vice versa at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals are now under surveillance by airport police personnel to ensure the safety of passenger’s baggage.
MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said new faces from the intelligence office were tapped discreetly observe and monitor workers.
Monreal said baggage pilferage at airport terminals maybe the handiwork of a syndicate as it can’t be done without the help of co-workers or security personnel in the loading and unloading areas.
He warned all service provider employees and all airport employees to shape up or face the full force of the law.
Monreal said all personnel working inside the tarmac must be frisked before entering and exiting. Likewise, personnel who work from the aircraft to build-up station and those who transport baggage will be subjected to thorough body search before they will be allowed to exit their work area. These personnel will also be equipped with body cameras, while their uniforms will be without pockets. Wearing of jewelry and the use of cellular phones will also be banned. (With a report from Ariel Fernandez)