Airport authorities on Thursday urged passengers not to bring firearms and other prohibited items to avoid flight delays, especially this coming summer vacation period and during Holy Week next month when the number of air travelers are expected to increase.
The Aviation Security Group also reminded the people traveling by air to secure documents, particularly a permit to transport from the Philippine National Police, when bringing guns and ammunition during their trips.
The Avsegroup made the reminder on the heels of the recent apprehension of a male passenger who was caught carrying one piece .9mm caliber pistol and one magazine loaded with 10 live bullets at the north wing of Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Centennial Terminal 2.
Passenger Romeo Salvador Jr. was about to board his flight bound for Los Angeles around 8: 55 a.m. on Wednesday when Office of the Transportation Security personnel discovered the gun inside his luggage.
The authorities immediately confiscated the gun and placed Salvador under investigation after they found out that his permit to carry firearms outside residence has already been expired.
Salvador was later turned over to the Avsegroup’s National Capital Region-Intelligence and Investigation Section along with the recovered evidence for proper disposition.
Avsegroup director Dionardo Carlos said he instructed his men to enforce strict screening procedure at all airports in the country in line with the implementation of Oplan Sandigan, the intensified anti-criminality campaign of the PNP under the leadership of its Director-General Ronald dela Rosa.
Carlos advised air travelers to be more extra careful in handling their baggage and ensure they are not carrying security risk and prohibited items that would prevent them from boarding their flights.
The Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO) of the PNP is the police unit handling clearances for passengers who wish to bring guns and ammunition when traveling. The FEO will issue the passenger’s Permit to Transport, the basic requirement for a passenger to be allowed to bring a gun in-flight.
The said office also issues other related documents depending on the purpose of transport such as a License to Operate, Importation Permit, Authorization to Export, and a Certificate of Balance.
On the date of departure, coordination will be made by the FEO with the Avsegroup firearm facilitator deployed to the airport.
After approaching the police desk at the airport, the passenger will be accompanied by the facilitator to the Customs area for clearance before the passenger is checked-in for the flight.
Coordination is made with the proper authorities, including the Avsegroup and the Office for Transportation Security, in making sure that procedures are followed.
While the authorities are keeping to procedure, passengers should be diligent enough to inquire with their airline and the country of destination as to their own policies regarding the transport of guns and ammunition.
Stricter security measure is also being enforced at the NAIA by flag carrier Philippine Airlines for its US-bound flights, specifically, from Manila to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and Guam, as well as PAL flights from Vancouver to New York (JFK).
The move is in compliance with the regulatory requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security for all flights operating from the last point of departure to the United States.
Late last year, PAL also conducted a simulation to implement the expanded check-in procedures and heightened security measures at the NAIA for all US-bound passengers.