Airport officials on Friday clarified that the four individuals arrested for alleged theft of pieces of jewelry owned by the wife of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu were not direct employees of the Manila International Airport Authority.
The MIAA made the clarification following the statement made by Senator Ralph Recto who urged law enforcement agencies to identify and go after the leaders of a syndicate at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport responsible for stealing valuables of passengers.
The suspects were identified as Yves Ronald Baguion, Wilson Mataganas, Ricardo Alfaro and John Andews Racoma, all employees of Miascor Ground Handling Corp. servicing the airport.
“Since they [suspects] are not direct employees of the MIAA, they have been turned over to their employer, Miascor, which shall conduct their own investigation and impose administrative sanctions against them,” the MIAA said in a statement.
Recto made the statement following the arrest of the suspects. He said if authorities had only done that a long time ago, “the country would have been spared of this embarrassing incident.”
“It took a foreign VIP to lodge a complaint before authorities finally took action against a continuing crime routinely posted by its victims, our Overseas Filipino Workers, in social media,” Recto said.
He urged the National Bureau of Investigation and other non-Naia based agencies to conduct the probe and lead the hunt for the perpetrators. “Aside from Naia police, you have to bring in outside investigators.”
“If there is a need to use intelligence fund, it will be good money worth spending. When you steal from OFWs, they who are returning from long and low-paying hard labor abroad, then you are an enemy of the state,” Recto said.
Recto said taxpayer-paid PR drives to lure in more tourists are negated by the bad press the country’s main gateway is getting. He said a serious airport cleanup drive should include all other major airports.
The senator said money should not be a problem in transforming NAIA’s image as an honest institution, and overcome a bad reputation inflicted by a few bad eggs working there.
Despite this, MIAA general manager Eddie Monreal commended the Airport Police Department for the swift recovery of a pink jewelry box owned by Mdme. Hulya Cavusoglu, wife of the Foreign Minister of Turkey, who attended the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings in Manila.
MIAA records showed that Cavusoglu departed for Turkey on board Turkish Airline flight TK85 last Aug. 4. “Around 4 p.m. of Aug. 7, 2017, Messrs. Erhan Balaban and Ufuk Apaydin, Turkish Airline Country Manager and Station Manager, respectively, went to the Office of the MIAA Assistant General Manager for Security to report the missing box of jewelry.”
A team of operatives from the MIAA Intelligence and Investigation Division (IID) led by Airport Police Officer Erick Mejia was immediately dispatched to work on the case.
With the help of Miascor ramp duty manager Lorena Pateno and Jean Marie Bumidang, and a supervisor, the suspects were placed under investigation.
In their affidavits, the suspects admitted to stealing a pink jewelry box from a passenger’s luggage at the bulk portion of the aircraft.
The items which were recovered at 12:30 a.m. of Aug. 8 and were personally handed over by MIAA-IID to the Turkish Airline executives.
The MIAA has permanently banned the four Miascor workers from the Naia premises by cancelling their access pass privilege and including their names in its Stop List. The ban will also prevent their employment in any company within the Naia premises.
The filing of criminal cases against the subjects has been left to the discretion of the client, Turkish Airline and Miascor.
Monreal is set to award plaques of commendation to the following Airport police officers namely Roderick Mejia, Jesus Ducusin, Jessie Goforth, Goldwin Cuarteros, Bilial Rivera, Marzel Pangda and Diomedes Roca; and Joymar Logronio, Jean Marie Bumidang, andLorena Pateno, all of Miascor.