House Speaker Martin Romualdez is usually mild-mannered and calm, but learning about the theft on a Thai tourist at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) by some Office for Transportation Security (OTS) personnel was enough to send him fuming.
So mad is the Speaker that he said he would recommend the replacement of all OTS personnel at the airport with honest and professional ones.
“Nakakahiya at nakakagalit (It's embarrassing and it makes me mad),” Romualdez angrily said.
"Paano tayo makakahikayat ng mga turista sa ating bansa kung mga magnanakaw ang ilang mga nagbabantay sa airport natin? (How would we be able to attract tourists to our country is some of those manning our airport are thieves?)" he asked.
OTS staff are the one who man the X-ray machines at NAIA. Recently, some of them were caught on video stealing items from a Thai tourist.
Romualdez said he will personally recommend to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Sec. Jaime Bautista the complete overhaul of OTS staff. He said he will meet with Bautista in the House of Representatives this week.
Romualdez proposed that DOTr should just allow OTS personnel with impeccable or good records to re-apply for their posts.
"It sounds a bit extreme, but circumstances call for extreme measures. If government personnel commits criminal acts against foreign visitors, the minute they landed at the airport, it says a lot about our country. So, it needs to be addressed sternly," he said.
When re-applying, Romualdez said, qualifications of OTS personnel should be subjected to the highest standards of public service and, if necessary, subject them to a lie detector test and re-training as new recruits.