WITH the help of high-tech X-ray machines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Customs officials expect to more than meet this year’s target revenue of P50.1 billion for the country’s premier gateway.
Customs-Naia collector Edgar Macabeo pointed out that their collection during the lean month was a whopping P3 billion per month, 11 percent deficit on monthly target collection of P4.2 billion.
Nevertheless, he said, there was a time they hit the goal during the month of February, March and May.
“We made it, and even exceeded from the target although the port is not so big like the other ports such as the Manila International Container Port and the Port of Manila,” Macabeo said.
Aside from enhancing the collection performance, airport authorities can also easily monitor all incoming luggage and carry-on bags for contraband with the operation of the 19 brand new X-ray machines worth P172 million.
The machines can provide a three-dimensional views of pieces of luggage by subjecting it to X-ray scan from the sides and from the top or bottom.
“Previous X-ray machines here at the airport could only show a one- dimensional views of items inside the luggage, hence it is often necessary to open the boxes and subject the content to another set of examinations,” said Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña Jr.
Lapeña said with the new X-ray machines, taxable items could be easily detected as well as drugs and guns hidden in luggage and balikbayan boxes without opening them.
He said the previous machines would only show a horizontal line if a gun like a .45 caliber pistol was laid at the bottom of the luggage, whereas the Rapiscan units could show the hot item, from the side and from the top or bottom.
“These are advance units. We will be able to improve the facilitation of luggage and, at the same time, every box or bag would be subjected to thorough inspections,” Lapeña said.
Seventeen machines will be installed at the four terminals while two mobile units will be utilized to check personal belongings and luggage of VIPs and celebrities, especially those with chartered flights and whose aircraft are parked at the remote parking of Naia terminals.
Without the machine, the authorities would have to rely mainly on profiling system or information coming from their counterparts abroad especially on drugs.
In 2013, the X-ray technology helped the Customs bureau in the seizure of more than P17 billion worth of smuggled goods.
The machines were described as the agency’s first line of defense against tax cheats and smugglers.
The X-ray Project has been recognized by the World Customs Organization as a model innovation for enhancing inspection and examination efficiency, cargo security, detection and deterrence at customs zones.