It serves as a consolation to travelers that the United States Department of Homeland Security has rescinded its Public Notice on the security risks at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
For over seven months since the DHS announcement on Dec. 27, 2018 categorizing NAIA as unsafe for international travelers, particularly American citizens, concerned Philippines authorities have worked hard to address the red flags.
The DHS issued the advisory resulting from the findings of the US Transportation Security Administration on the serious security deficiencies that terrorist might exploit to penetrate and mount an attack at the NAIA, the main gateway to the country that services some 33,000 airline passengers daily.
The issue of safety and security of arriving and departing travelers is actually one of the major reasons apart from the crowding, poor facilities and messy vehicular traffic at the gates why NAIA earned the title “The Worst International Airport in the World” during the previous administration.
Long after the rampant “tanim-bala” extortion racket by NAIA personnel was eradicated with President Duterte’s ultimatum, NAIA has had to cope with the TSA’s multiple assessment of its capability to deter the threat of terrorism, particularly from the sophisticated Islamic State movement and the Al-Qaida operators.
The TSA had decided that NAIA had failed miserably to adequately implement and maintain internationally security standards, and recommended practices established by the International Civil Aviation Organization in Annex 17 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944.
There is indeed a clear and present danger posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) Movement and its followers in the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, among those responsible for a series of attacks.
With the assistance of the TSA itself and a US$5-million donation, the Philippines Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) demonstrated that they are more than willing to improve NAIA’s security operations.
Kudos to DOTr Secretary Art Tugade and MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal for the accomplishment.
The question now is: How determined are the DOTr and MIAA authorities to sustain the improvements?
Also, how seriously are the traveling public, particularly Filipinos, willing to cooperate with the implementation of airport security measures?
Let’s just hope that there will not be another idiotic congressman who would pull a bomb hoax at NAIA.
Then again, this security issue is just one of the perennial agonizing problems that we have to put up with at NAIA’s terminals. The public welcomed with excitement the news of the plan for new world-class Manila international airport to be built in Bulakan, Bulacan Province.
No more “World’s Worst International Airport” tags!