OTS urged to reinterview employees, properly vet applicants

By Wilnard Bacelonia

September 21, 2023, 4:14 pm

<p><em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senator Grace Poe on Thursday urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) to scrutinize personnel and future applicants to prevent incidents of alleged theft by airport personnel from happening.

The lawmakers made the call after at least one OTS screening officer allegedly took USD300 from a departing passenger last Sept. 8 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

Villanueva also called for an investigation and dismissal with filing of cases against the personnel behind the incident.

"Kailangang alamin din kung mayroon syang kasabwat sa paggawa ng krimen para maputol na ang mafia ng masasamang-loob sa airport (We should also find out if the personnel has accomplices in committing the crime so we can dismantle the mafia of bad people in the airport)," Villanueva said in a statement.

"Dapat magsagawa ng retraining at assessment sa mga airport personnel, at maging mapanuri sa pagtanggap ng aplikante para matiyak na hindi tayo nagpapasweldo sa mga kawatan (Airport personnel should also undergo retraining and assessment, and be critical in accepting applicants to make sure that we are not employing thieves)," he added.

Poe, meanwhile, is hoping authorities can identify everyone involved in the incident.

"May mga report pa na nagsasabing inutusan ang OTS personnel na gawin ito para hindi mahuli. Ibig sabihin, may mga kasabwat pa ito (There are reports saying the OTS personnel was ordered to do it to avoid being caught. This means that the person has accomplices)," Poe said in a separate statement.

Poe, who chairs the Committee on Public Services, also urged the OTS to review its recruitment process and evaluate its employees.

"We ask the airport security office to properly vet applicants and reinterview existing employees to determine their qualifications and evaluate their performance," she said.

According to a report issued by the OTS, security screening officer (SSO) Irency Morados, who tried to swallow the dollar bills she apparently got from the bag of a foreign passenger, indeed "appeared to be in connivance" with two other SSOs.

The report cited a certain Abraham de Luna and X-ray operator Regino Allen Pollante who gave the water bottle to Morados. (PNA)