How airport authorities replied to theft allegations OFW deported from Saudi Arabia

November 29, 2018 - 5:58 PM
Screenshot from Andrew Montes
OFW Andrew Montes showed the remaining items of his check-in baggage. (Facebook/Mah Fe Moskila)

Airport authorities countered the claims of a Filipino deportee that valuable items worth more than P80,000 got stolen from his check-in luggage.

Andrew Montes, an overseas worker from Saudi Arabia, complained that he and another worker lost their smart phones, pieces of jewellery and cash from their check-in luggage upon their arrival at the terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on November 17.

Montes shared this through photos and video clips on social media.

Officials of the Manila International Airport Authority stated that they found no evidence that the complainant’s bags had been tampered with at the airport.

This development came after MIAA coordinated with the ground handler of Saudia Airlines, the flight the overseas workers boarded to Manila.

“It was learned that footages taken from body cameras of their ramp agents revealed that there were no noticeable irregularities or mishandling of baggage that would warrant a probe on the allegation of Montes that their bags were tampered in NAIA,” MIAA said in the statement.

The Civil Aeronautics Board also could not probe into his concern because he did not file a formal complaint when he personally sought help from their office on November 20.

“He was advised that airlines have Standard Operating Procedures to observe and that compensation for loss of valuable items is subject to proper declaration during check-in,” part of the statement read.

MIAA did not mention any form of action it would take to address Montes’ accusations.

Alleged theft

Montes, who came from the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, wrote on Facebook that they have lost many valuable belongings inside their check-in luggage.

Please help po😭😭😭Pakishare po,Last November 17,2018 na deport po ako from Jeddah Saudi Arabia.Ang sabi po sa mga…

Posted by Mah Fe Moskila on Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Being deportees, immigration officials from Jeddah prohibited them to carry any of their possessions with them to the plane, Montes recalled. He then made sure to secure his valuables inside his bag.

However, when he and his fellow deportees arrived in Manila, the contents of their bags were a mess.

“Direct flight po kami from Jeddah to Manila. Nawala po ang cellphone ko, mga alahas at pera pati din po sa mga kasamahan namin,” he said in his post. He did not state the reason for the deportation.

In one of the videos, he showed empty boxes where he placed his jewellery worth 6,000 riyals or P80,000.

A female migrant, meanwhile, said that she lost two brand-new smartphones.

“Deported na nga po kami, wala pang natira sa pinaghirapan namin,” Montes said in the clip.

One photo showed a letter from Saudia informing them that it cannot be liable for any losses in their carriage.

Saudia email
Screenshot by Interaksyon (Facebook/Mah Fe Moskila)

It reiterated its policy that passengers should not include any fragile and valuable items in their checked baggage. These includes the ones the OFW’s found missing among their things.

Montes posted this situation on November 27. It soon went rounds on social media and earned the ire of many Filipinos against NAIA’s lack of security.

When it blew up, Eddie Monreal, general manager of MIAA, tells Montes that his postings only tarnish the airport’s image and will not provide solutions to his problem.

“Hindi nakakatulong sa ating bansa ang mga akusasyong walang basehan,” Monreal said.

“Dapat maging mahinahon at alamin ang puno’t dulo ng lahat. Sa pangyayaring ito, muli na namang nalagay sa masama ang imahe ng NAIA at tingin ng mundo sa ating bansa. Nakakalungkot,” he added.

Not the first time

Last January, Monreal formed a special team from the MIAA police department to monitor the baggage of travellers from the aircraft to the build-up station.

He also ordered airport personnel back then to wear body cameras as additional measure to prevent theft.

He said that there were 26 reported pilferage cases in 2016. Most of these were committed by baggage handlers.

Despite these efforts, reports of stolen packages continue to plague the country’s premier airport.

Last April, two airport personnel from the Office of Transport Security were charged with theft after they admitted pilfering from a Japanese tourist.

Last September, two more OTS inspectors were charged for allegedly stealing $2,600 or P136,000 from a Taiwanese passenger.

MIAA revealed that aside from Montes, there are 11 incidents of theft reported from Filipino deportees who boarded Saudia Airlines.