General manager Eddie Monreal of the Manila International Airport Authority has formed a special team from the agency’s police department tasked to wipe out erring individuals engaged in baggage theft.
The MIAA has started deploying Airport Police Department intelligence personnel in the tarmac of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to monitor transportation of baggage of air travellers at the aircraft to and from the luggage build-up station.
The baggage build-up area is were all luggage of both arriving and outgoing passengers are being sorted and loaded toward the baggage carousel at the arrival area and at the plane, respectively. It is jointly manned by airline employees and airport baggage handling and security personnel.
Monreal said new faces from the APD intelligence office were tapped to discreetly observe and monitor the baggage movement by pretending to be workers from other departments of the airport.
He hinted that airport baggage handlers commit the theft usually in cahoots with other airport employees.
“They’re not doing it without the help of other workers who are now the subjects of our (surveillance) operation.”
Monreal said all personnel at the tarmac must be frisked before entering or exiting the area, most especially those working from the aircraft to build up station and those who transport baggage of passengers.
“It is time to make our airport an airport free from pilferage,” he added.
-Monreal earlier ordered all baggage handlers and security providers at the airport to wear body cameras while on duty to prevent incidents of baggage theft.
Meanwhile, the Cebu Pacific Air management is now coordinating with MIAA officials to ensure the smooth transition of airport ground services following the announcement of Monreal that he will no longer renew the Lease and Concession Agreement with Miascor Ground Handling Corp. due to alleged pilferage committed by their employees.
Cebu Pacific is one of the airlines under contract with Miascor, which was given by Monreal 60 days to vacate and return to the premises it has occupied inside the airport complex and terminals.
“We are confident that with the assistance of the airport authorities and other stakeholders, there will be no interruption to service continuity,” the airline management said in a statement.
Monreal said in NAIA alone, some 26 pilferage cases were reported in 2016 and 18 of them were reportedly committed by ground handlers from Miascor.
The number of pilferage cases, however, has been reduced from 26 to seven last year.
“But our goal is to make airport pilferage free, he added.
The airport chief said MIAA is considering other service providers that the airlines can choose, such as PAGGS, Skylander, Macroasia and Orbit, which are all licensed ground handlers.
Aside from Cebu Pacific, other airlines being served by Miascor include Malaysia Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Air Hong Kong, Qantas Airways, Jeju Air, Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Japan.
Just recently, six employees of Miascor working at the Clark International Airport were suspended and placed under investigation for pilferage of luggage that went viral on social media.
In August 2016, four other Miascor workers at NAIA also got involved in the theft of pieces of jewelry owned by the wife of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Monreal reminded air travellers that as much as possible, they should avoid putting valuable items in their luggage, or place them in their carry-on bags for safety.
On Friday, Miascor offered a public apology, particularly to Jovenil dela Cruz, the victim of a pilferage incident at the Clark International Airport.
“Miascor management immediately reached out to him upon learning about this unfortunate incident and we have already reached an amicable settlement. The company, together with airport authorities, also acted very quickly and placed those allegedly involved under preventive suspension. They have since been terminated and criminal and administrative charges have been filed against them.
"The firm said it will not tolerate wrongdoing or any type of bad behavior from its employees.
“Miascor is committed to conducting its business with the
highest standards of compliance and ethics. And every employee is expected to demonstrate professionalism, honesty and integrity.“
The company has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider his position terminating its contract “on behalf of our almost 4,000 regular employees and their families who will be affected.”
“It is unfortunate that the actions of six erring employees in ClarkInternational Airport have negatively impacted the company.
The recent incident does not define what Miascor stands for and how it operates.”
Miascor has been in operations since 1974 and has presence in several key airports in the country, including NAIA, providing aviation services.