Senate blue ribbon panel to start probe into aircraft involved in alleged human smuggling

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will start its investigation into the alleged human trafficking incident that occurred at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last week on Tuesday, February 21.

The office of Sen. Francis Tolentino, chairman of the blue ribbon panel, released the announcement on Monday.

Sen. Grace Poe, who exposed the issue involving the controversial aircraft operated by HongKong-based leasing firm, Cloud Nine No. 1 Leasing Co., Ltd., said they have invited its aircraft ground handler is a local company, Global Aviation Service Corp. or Globan.

But Globan has not confirmed their participation in the Senate probe, according to Poe.

Nevertheless, she said the Senate is prepared to issue a subpoena to compel officials of Globan to appear in the probe.

"What we're seeing here is that it is easy for anyone to enter restricted security areas where the tarmac and planes are parked," Poe said in Filipino during a press briefing.

"What if someone slid contraband or whatever in that parked plane? That is a major security risk," she pointed out.

Poe said Globan seems to be the same firm that attempted to smuggle Mohit and Twinkle Dargani, siblings tagged in the Pharmally scandal, out of the Philippines.

Globan, Poe noted, is "deeply entrenched in our system."

"Of course, they have a relationship with CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, with MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority), with the (Bureau of) Immigration, maybe also with the Customs," she further said.

Aside from this, Poe said the committee will inquire into the lack of security cameras, or CCTVs, especially inside restricted areas.

It is also not clear if the incident that occurred in February 14 was not human smuggling.

"Because there were additional passengers that boarded the plane during the last minute and the release of the clearance was too swift. So we do not really know," she said.

"Globan is one of the biggest operator of chartered flights in the Philippines. So I am sure they have connections already with different agencies," the lawmaker said.