Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles over the weekend said that despite the acquisition of new X-ray machines and the tight security measures at the country’s major airports, it appeared that there was hardly any security protocol to screen the people who were working inside these facilities including ground and flight crews of airline companies.
“The apparent lack of character check for people who go in and out of the airports and board commercial planes on a daily basis is a serious security flaw which could be exploited, particularly by terrorists,” Nograles said.
He said that the case of Cebu Pacific, where one of its in-flight service crews was accused of stealing money from their Chinese passengers, was not only an embarrassment to the airline but it also spoke a lot on the lack of proper security protocol to screen employees.
Nograles said that a so-called “sleeper agent” of a terrorist organization can easily infiltrate the country’s airports and launch deadly bombing attacks just like what happened recently in Thailand.
He added that except for their biodata and other documentary credentials, there appears to be no extra effort for a deeper character check on airport personnel, including the ground and flight personnel of airlines, utility people and even the blue guards.
“The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) should seriously look into this issue and update their security protocol covering all airlines and airport personnel, including those that are sourced from manpower pooling agencies,” Nograles said.
He observed that this lack of proper security profiling for people involved in airport operations could be used as basis by other countries such as the United States and the European Union to again downgrade the country’s aviation rating which was only upgraded to category 1 last year.
Nograles said that out of curiosity, he made inquiries on the screening process of people who were employed inside the country’s airports and he was shocked to discover that there was no background checking or security profiling for them despite the fact that airports were considered as critical facilities and key national security assets.
“From what I’ve learned, there is really no profiling for airline crews and personnel. Airline companies rely on submitted data individually or as provided by their agencies. Even more concerning is the fact that many of these people were hired through manpower pooling companies which are completely unconcerned about the background of the people they hire. Basta may NBI clearance ka ayos na sa kanila,” the chairman of House Labor committee said. (PNA)