The Manila International Airport Authority will work closely with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration to boost security measures for the protection of air travelers.
The move, according to MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal, is in line with the agency’s program to enhance and improve security measures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“We were informed by the TSA about their observations regarding procedures, processes, equipment and personnel posting at the NAIA following an assessment period from Sept. 26 to Dec. 5 this year, during which time the MIAA and the Office for Transportation Security have implemented measures to rectify and make improvements on security issues that were identified,” Monreal said.
For instance, new background check procedures for newly hired airport personnel will include neighborhood and NICA (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) checks for those implementing security control, and submission of new NBI clearances for all MIAA access pass holders will be required.
“Strict measures are being put into place in terms of personnel manning security checkpoints. In case of a delinquency report, the concerned personnel will be immediately pulled out from the line and will undergo retraining before being sent back on line. But, if a second delinquency incident occurs, then that personnel is out,” Monreal said.
The MIAA chief likewise noted that the procurement process for the needed equipment such as walk-through metal detectors, X-ray machines and alarm systems, are already ongoing, in compliance with government rules and procedures.
“Procurement for the necessary equipment are ongoing, but we need to understand that we cannot have these instantly. These are not items off the shelves, and manufacturing time after we place the orders may take six months. But, as instructed by DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, we will make sure there will be no delays in the process so we can make use of these equipment within 2019,” Monreal said.
“Secretary Tugade is monitoring our progress on a day to day basis to ensure that even the smallest concern are being addressed. He doesn’t want us to just wait and do nothing. So, while we are waiting for the delivery of these equipment, such as standalone alarm systems, manual interventions have been strictly put in place, for instance, the posting of additional MIAA-contracted guards 24/7. All these, we do, because safety and security have always been a top priority for us at NAIA,” he added.
Monreal also disclosed that the International Civil Aviation Organization had furnished the MIAA and OTS copies of its latest security audit findings, saying that both agencies satisfactorily complied with ICAO standards with some comments and suggestions on implementing the corrective action plan crafted by the said agencies.
In its letter dated Oct. 25, 2018 addressed to OTS Administrator Arturo Evangelista, ICAO was pleased to note “the progress that State has made to comply with the standards in Annex 17—Securityand the security-related Standards in Annex 9—Facilitation to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, and towards the implementation of the critical elements of a State aviation security oversight system.”
“The letter from ICAO is not only encouraging; it also indicates recognition of our firm commitment to comply with international standards of airport safety and security for the traveling public. Rest assured that we will continue to work with our partners to enhance security measures and keep up with the evolving needs of passengers,” Monreal assured.
For his part, United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim remains convinced that all minor adjustments will be addressed under the leadership of Tugade.
“I understand that a lot of progress has already been made in NAIA. There’s still work to be done, but I remain convinced that under the leadership of Secretary Tugade, NAIA will be able to address all minor adjustments. We will continue to support as much as we can,” Ambassador Kim said.