The Manila International Airport Authority has forged an agreement with the International Criminal Police Organization to monitor movements of suspected international and local smugglers.
The move was also made to strengthen border control which is part of an intensified international campaign against illegal trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials.
The airport authority said security personnel have started training on how to detect smuggled nuclear and radioactive materials under the supervision of the Interpol’s Radiological Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit.
An initial exercise held on May 17 and 18 where the luggage of arriving and departing passengers were strictly screened.
The exercise, dubbed Operation Conduit, involved the use of specialized portable radiation detection equipment of the Interpol placed at passenger movement areas at Terminal 3—including the screening checkpoints and the immigration area.
These devices trigger an alarm if passers-by are positive of radioactive material.
“It’s two-day exercise only. But it’s the coordination mechanism in place that makes the collaboration sustainable,” said MIAA spokesman Dave de Castro.
A mobile facial recognition system was also set up that identifies people involved in nuclear trafficking or with cases recorded in the Interpol database.
Results of the operation showed that no baggage or passenger was found to be with radioactive material during the conduct of the exercise.
Training was also provided to local enforcement agencies involved in airport operations on nuclear trafficking and coordination procedures in such cases.
MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado thanked the Interpol for forging collaborations that strengthen border control at primary gateways of the country.
“More than ever, we are hastily transitioning to a world in which international borders are becoming less and less defined. In such a world, too, are rogue elements ready to take their chance at illegally transporting their resources. It is, therefore, the responsibility of local enforcers to see to it that our borders are protected. I thank the Interpol for stressing its importance through this collaboration,” he said.
Meanwhile, a debriefing session was held on Thursday to lay down procedures for continued coordination among local enforcement agencies and with the Interpol.
Among others, involved agencies are the MIAA, Philippine National Police, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Office for Transportation Security, Bureau of Quarantine, Bureau of Customs, and the Bureau of Immigration.