By Dhel Nazario and Genalyn D. Kabiling
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued a new set of guidelines for baggage handlers at the airports, such as wearing body cameras and doing away with pockets in their uniforms, to avoid any incidents of baggage theft which resulted in the recent termination of MIASCOR Groundhandling Corporation’s contract.
The guidelines also prohibit the baggage handlers from wearing loose boots or shoes, where small pilfered items from luggage could be kept.
Likewise, the use of cellular phones and the wearing of jewelry are prohibited as personnel handle the luggage of travelers.
But the most critical among the rules imposed as an offshoot of the involvement of six ground handling employees of MIASCOR in luggage theft at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga is the imposition of the wearing of body cameras during working hours.
No second chance
The government is standing firmly behind the contract termination of MIASCOR Groundhandling Corporation for the protection of the traveling public from baggage theft.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque explained that the aviation services provider has nothing to appeal for reconsideration since the contract has already expired.
Roque also assured there will be uninterrupted aviation ground services amid plans to recruit new personnel or retain qualified MIASCOR workers.
“The contract of MIASCOR is expired,” Roque said in text message, amid reports the company plans to ask President Duterte to reconsider his position.
“The position of MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority) following the order of the President is not to renew because of many pilferage cases of MIASCOR both in NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) and Clark to protect the OFW. So nothing to appeal as there is no existing contract,” he added.
The cases involving MIASCO include include the theft committed to the wife of a Turkish diplomat and the alleged involvement of a MIASCOR supervisor with illegal drugs, according to Roque.
Roque stressed the need to look at the “bigger picture” in which the “national interest is of paramount importance.”
“In particular, we need to protect airport travelers from baggage theft, especially overseas Filipino workers who work so hard to earn a living, and to make sure that potential tourists and investors are not turned off by such incidents at the airport,” he said.
Roque also said the Palace is concerned about the MIASCOR workers “but we cannot give their employer a concession on that basis alone, considering all the theft incidents by MIASCOR.”
He assured though that qualified MIASCOR personnel will be absorbed by other existing ground handlers.
“Fact is the jobs are there so these will be filled up either by new hires or qualified staff from Miascor,” he said.
Earlier, the firm appealed to the President “to kindly reconsider his position on behalf of our almost 4,000 regular employees and their families who will be affected.”
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal already announced that they have issued a non-renewal of the Lease and Concession Agreement between MIAA and MIASCOR Groundhandling Corporation last Friday.
Monreal wrote a letter to MIASCOR President Fidel Reyes asking them “to vacate and return all premises occupied by MIASCOR inside the Airport Complex and its terminals within sixty (60) days from date.”