This file photo shows officer and airmen of the Philippine Air Force. President Duterte said the Air Force would take over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport if security there is not improved.
The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales, file
Air Force to take over NAIA if 'security not improved,' Duterte says
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - June 27, 2019 - 3:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Air Force can take over the Ninoy Aquino International Airport if security issues in the airport are not addressed, President Rodrigo Duterte said. 

Duterte said the Philippines would stand to lose if an untoward incident happens at the airport. 

"I am issuing a warning. If that NAIA is not—the security is not improved there—I will order the Air Force to take over. You must remember I declared a national 
emergency when I started as president. And I would invoke it," the president said during the 122nd anniversary of the Presidential Security Group last Wednesday in Malacañang. 

"Napakadisgrasya 'yan kung may mangyari diyan. Talo tayo lahat diyan.  (It would be a disgrace if something happens there. We will all lose)," he added. 

US: NAIA security inconsistent with international standards

Duterte did not elaborate on the security concerns hounding the airport but the US Department of Homeland Security issued a travel warning late last year saying the Manila airport "does not maintain and carry out effective security consistent with the security standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization."

The Department of Transportation said in December 2018 that the US Transportation Security Administration assessed NAIA and recommended the installation of new equipment such as X-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors and alarm systems at the airport.

It also recommended new background check procedures for newly hired airport personnel, which will include neighborhood and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency checks for those implementing security control, and the submission of new National Bureau of Investigation clearances for all-access pass holders.

Duterte's surprise inspection

The president made the remark a month after he made a surprise visit to NAIA Terminal 2 due to reports about flight cancellations and diversions. These were actually prompted by lightning alerts, which prompt a suspension in operations to ensure the safety of ground personnel.

Duterte promised to come up with a solution to the problem within a month. Duterte has also expressed dismay over the situation at NAIA and hinted at a possible revamp of the airport's management. 

WATCH: Panelo complains about delayed baggage, limited ventilation at NAIA 2

To ease the congestion at NAIA, the Duterte administration is studying the transfer of general aviation or domestic flights to Sangley Airbase in Cavite. 

Last October, Duterte said the military would take over the Bureau of Customs because of issues of corruption at the agency.

"I am ordering everybody to report to my office. Maybe I’ll issue the memorandum... I have yet to sign it," he said.

Manila International Airport Authority, the agency mandated to manage the airport, was created by executive order in 1983.

Among its functions, according to Executive Order No. 903 is the "maintenance of security to passengers, cargoes, aircraft, airport equipment, structures, facilities, personnel, funds and documents." 

Although the authority has police powers, these are "without prejudice to the exercise of functions within the same premises by the Ministry of National Defense," which has since been renamed the Department of National Defense. 

In 2016, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 55 placing the entire country under a “state of emergency.”

In the proclamation, the president directed the armed forces and the police to suppress “any and all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao” and to prevent lawless violence from spreading in other parts of the country.

MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PHILIPPINE AIR FORCE
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