MIAA counters Bertiz claim on Chinese-looking tourists breezing through security check

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - October 1, 2018 - 7:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila International Airport Authority on Monday denied the claim of Rep. Aniceto "John" Bertiz (ACTS OFW party-list) that there were Chinese-looking passengers who were escorted by airport security officials and breezed through the final checkpoint of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said upon checking the longer version of the CCTV camera footage, he learned that there were no Chinese-looking passengers who entered the security screening before Bertiz.

“Sa aking pagtitingin and evaluate kasama ho ang aming mga tauhan ay wala ho kaming nakita na allegedly may mga Chinese-looking. Nareview ko po ‘yung CCTV about 20 minutes prior to the incident wala ho kaming nakita (Upon viewing and evaluating the video with my staff, we did not see alleged Chinese-looking [passengers]. I reviewed the CCTV footage about 20 minutes prior to the incident and we did not see anything),” Monreal said in a press briefing.

On Sunday, a CCTV camera footage posted online showing Bertiz not following security procedures and scolding an airport screener went viral and earned the public’s ire.

Bertiz apologized for his behavior while his chief of staff, Jun Aguilar, explained that the lawmaker acted that way since some of the Chinese-looking passengers were not thoroughly checked by security officers.

READ: Solon scolding NAIA security screener in viral video says sorry

“A group of Chinese-looking passengers escorted by airport staff had breezed through and did not undergo the same security protocols that everybody else had to go through,” Aguilar said.

“The congressman questioned the security checker why those who went before him just casually walked through and were not properly searched,” he added.

Office of the Transportation Security Administrator Art Evangelista, however, said whether there were Chinese-looking passengers before him that were treated differently was not the issue.

“The issue here is the behavior of the congressman,” Evangelista said.

Evangelista defended the airport screener who was just doing his job.

He explained that the Philippine is a signatory to the International Civil Aviation Organization which mandates them to conduct a search of passengers and baggage prior to departure.

Evangelista also said he reviewed the video and did not find Chinese-looking passengers either.

“I reviewed the video 30 minutes before, there’s no such incident, initially,” Evangelista said in mix of English and Filipino in a separate press conference.

The OTS official said Bertiz’s claim is for him to prove.

Evangelista said the authorities are already investigating the incident.

He earlier said Bertiz committed a breach of protocol for ignoring the security official and procedures.

Evangelista said the penalty on Bertiz would depend on the guidance of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Department of Transportation.

RELATED: Officials say Bertiz violated airport security protocols

Meanwhile, the MIAA said it is investigating who leaked the CCTV footage after the lawmaker’s camp questioned how it was made public.

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