Authorities continue to apprehend people carrying guns at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport despite the much-publicized election gun ban and numerous warnings about the danger of bringing in or carrying such prohibited items.
Last Saturday, members of the Police-Aviation Security Group and the Office for Transportation Security arrested a 71-year-old passenger for carrying an unlicensed .38 cal revolver with 32 live ammunition and seven empty shells during the initial security check at departure area of Naia Terminal 1.
The passenger—Emilia Florano—was scheduled to board Korean Airlines flight KE 622 bound for Incheon, South Korea when authorities saw the X-ray scanning images of the gun and ammunitions inside her luggage.
The authorities immediately turned over the woman and the seized items to the Intelligence and Investigation Section of the Avsegroup-National Capital Region Office for proper disposition and subsequent filing of appropriate charges.
The Commission on Elections on April 14 declared a nationwide gun ban in connection with the village and youth council polls next month.
Early this month, airport personnel caught a woman named Grace Castro, also in possession of a .38 cal. revolver while she was at the initial screening check point at Departure Gate 6 of Naia Terminal 3.
Prior to this, OTS men manning the initial security check also caught Jean Lolita Abad Manipud Robles, 45, for bringing in 33 pieces of live ammunition hidden inside a green bottle and a match box.
Robles was about to board her flight for California, USA via Taipei, when OTS men noticed the banned items through X-ray images. She claimed she accidentally brought the said items and placed it in her balikbayan box.
Five other cases of passengers who brought bullets and other prohibited items were recorded by the Manila International Airport Authority on the same day at Naia Terminal 3.
“We can’t explain why. Despite all the [apprehension] incidents, warnings and news reports, more passengers are still bringing those items. We encourage everyone to be aware of this prohibition,” said MIAA public information officer Connie Bungag.
MIAA general manager Eddie Villanueva Monreal earlier urged the people not to bring live ammunition, amulet and other prohibited items when traveling to avoid flight delays.
Those apprehended mostly “used” the live ammunition and empty bullets as souvenirs, necklaces, talismans or amulets. But the authorities reminded the public that those are banned items.
PNP-Avsegroup officials 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.
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.
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 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 checkedin for the flight.
Coordination is made with the proper authorities, including the Avsegroup and the OTS, in making sure that procedures are followed.
While 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.