5 NAIA screeners suspended for extortion

Rudy Santos - The Philippine Star
5 NAIA screeners suspended for extortion
Screen grab from One News shows two screening officers inserting money in their pockets, which they allegedly took from Thai tourist Piwayat Gunlayaprasit at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Feb. 22.
Screengrab from One News

MANILA, Philippines — Five screening officers of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) have been relieved from duty after videos showing them allegedly extorting money from a departing Thai tourist at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) went viral on social media.

OTS administrator Ma.O Aplasca withheld the identities of the personnel who were placed under preventive suspension following the incident.

Aplasca said four of the screening officers were job order personnel hired last year. The other was a contractual employee who had been working at the OTS for five years.

Criminal and administrative cases would be filed against them, Aplasca said.

The victim, Piyawat Gunlayaprasit, posted videos on Facebook on Feb. 22, which recorded the alleged extortion by OTS personnel at the NAIA Terminal 2.

The first video showed two OTS employees inserting something in their pockets after a security checkpoint.

A second video recorded the Thai tourist requesting the screening officers to return the 20,000 yen or about P8,000 taken from him.

OTS personnel were seen handing back the money to Gunlayaprasit as the screening officers were heard pleading to delete the video.

“This illegal act will not be tolerated. We will apply the full force of the law to penalize corrupt OTS officers as we send a strong message that we are serious in cleansing our ranks,” Aplasca said.

“The President and the government have been inviting tourists and investors to come to the Philippines. But these corrupt personnel tarnish the reputation and integrity not only of the OTS but the country in general,” he added.

Since July last year, 14 OTS personnel have been dismissed while three others have been suspended. Six cases remain under investigation by the agency’s legal department.

The cases ranged from violation of the OTS’ “no tipping” policy, improper disposal of intercepted prohibited items, extortion, rude behavior and the use of mobile phones while on duty.

Sen. Grace Poe described as “infuriating and embarrassing” the viral video of OTS personnel involved in extortion at the NAIA.

Poe said the Manila International Airport Authority leadership should explain the incident.

“The airport security personnel returned the money after learning that another Thai tourist recorded the incident on his cell phone camera,” she said.

“Nang nakita ko ‘yung video na yun, talagang nakakagalit at nakakahiya. Isa na namang problema ito sa reputasyon ng ating airport,” Poe told Senate reporters yesterday. – Ralph Edwin Villanueva, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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