Purge the OTS

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - February 2, 2016 - 9:00am

Can the Office for Transportation Security still redeem itself? Can the public ever truly trust the OTS? The agency was recently embroiled in the so called bullet-planting scheme by several OTS airport screeners to extort money from potential victims like OFWs just wanting to leave for their countries of destination. The greed of some of these OTS personnel led to the whole scheme being reported on media almost on a daily basis. Logic defied the bringing of single pieces of ammunition in their luggage, unless the passengers themselves admit to using them as talismans.

Cases such as that of Gloria Ortinez and Lane Michael White, both apparent victims of the said extortion scheme, have brought the nefarious practice to the limelight. The cases filed against them have since been dropped thanks to the stupidity of the officers who presented the wrong bullet in Ortinez' case and CCTV video footage of Lane's baggage repeatedly being fed into the x-ray machine until a bullet was finally "discovered." Trust in the OTS hits an all-time low. 

Now, an OTS airport screener was intercepted trying to smuggle out forty-seven live animals to Japan. These included eleven tarsiers, eleven snakes, eleven monitor lizards, eight sailfin lizards and several owls. Some of these animals are currently protected by wildlife laws because of their dwindling numbers. The animals were placed in plastic bins and stored in Styrofoam boxes, labeled as aquatic plants.

Authorities from the DENR received a tip that the OTS screener in question was smuggling out exotic animals, hence the arrest. It is ironic that this OTS screener was recently cited for honesty for returning a bag left by a passenger that contained around five thousand dollars. According to The DENR, the animals may fetch as much as three thousand dollars each in the black market. No wonder he decided to return the bag. Not only does he get a citation for honesty, it throws off the scent, so to speak, from his other more lucrative, criminal endeavor. It seems that lot of that going around lately.

It will be hard to believe that he was working alone in this. Being an airport screener, he definitely knows that all cargo will be subjected to x-ray screening. I'm sure even a kid in grade school would be able to differentiate a plant from an animal. So how else could he be able to smuggle out these animals without help from other personnel at the airport?

It is also obvious that this is not the first time he has done this, as he already has an established contact in Japan. Who knows how many poor ani-mals have made the perilous journey and survived? And who knows what other rackets are being conducted at the airport everyday?

Once again, the OTS is in the limelight. Once again, public trust in the agency has eroded, especially when an honored personnel is now involved in criminal activities. Just like the New Bilibid Prisons, this agency must be purged of all its personnel.

Obviously the heads are oblivious or maybe just looking the other way, of all that is going on at the airport terminals - from bullet-planting to animal smuggling. Let's not forget the case of four Filipinos who were arrested in Hong Kong for carrying more than two kilograms of cocaine, that "was not spotted" here in the country by the OTS, since it apparently "did not present any danger to the aircraft."

Yeah right.

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