NAIA security officer under fire for trying to swallow money in alleged theft

September 20, 2023 - 4:39 PM
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Passengers at the check-in area in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) wait for an announcement after the cancellation of some flights in the NAIA terminal 3 due to technical issues at the air navigation facilities of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Sunday, January 1, 2023 (The Philippine STAR/Edd Gumban)

Philippine airport security received backlash on social media once again after one of its personnel got caught allegedly stealing money from a passenger.

According to a Manila Bulletin report on September 19, citing the official report from airport authorities, a female security screening officer was caught on CCTV trying to put a wad of bills into her mouth. This, it seems, is in an attempt to hide the money she allegedly stole from a departing passenger.

The incident occurred at 8:18 p.m. on September 8 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

The passenger was also identified as Mr. Cai, a Chinese individual.

Details of the report from airport authorities came from the footage shown by two CCTV cameras.

Based on the first CCTV video, Cai was seen passing through the Advanced Imaging Technology Machine (AITM) while the officer manually inspected his bag. His bag was placed on a tray.

After finishing her manual search, the officer turned away from the camera while holding an item in her tightly clenched left hand.

Cai later confronted the officer, the police and other airport personnel about his missing money amounting to $300 (P17,033).

The complaint prompted authorities to conduct a review of the second surveillance camera. This was installed at the area behind the terminal where the alleged theft occurred.

They later found out that the security officer turned away from the first camera because she apparently tried to swallow the money she pilfered from the traveler.

Moreover, the second video also showed that the suspect received a bottle of water from an X-ray operator prior to performing this act.

Airport authorities said that the suspected officer had an “intent to gain” Cai’s money.

The screening officer’s supervisor and x-ray operator also “appeared to be in connivance” with her.

Cai, however, could no longer be contacted on plans to file charges against the suspects.

Probe was launched

In a statement, the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) said it launched a fact-finding investigation to verify the information stated in this report.

“The OTS has been working closely with the Manila International Airport Authority, and the Philippine National Police Aviation Security to bring those accountable to the folds of the law and take appropriate administrative actions if the allegations are substantiated,” it said.

“The actions described are obviously not reflective of the code of conduct for civil servants, much more of the core values that majority of our personnel upholds,” it added.

The OTS has also identified the personnel concerned.

The investigation is still ongoing as of writing.

Criticisms on social media

Several Filipinos expressed frustration and dismay over this incident at the local airport.

“Paano naman tayo pagkakatiwalaan kung ganito mga tao natin sa airport?” an X user said.

“Ilang beses na kaya nila nagawa yan malamang di lang siya ang gumagawa nyan,” another Filipino commented.

Others expressed disgust at the act of swallowing cash.

“I’m just thinking of all the germs on paper money,” a Filipino on the X app said. 

Since early this year, OTS personnel have been involved in multiple issues of theft and other complaints.

Last March, an OTS personnel was caught allegedly stealing a smartwatch from a Chinese passenger at the airport.

READ: OTS personnel chided for alleged stealing of passenger’s smartwatch 

Female OTS personnel also received complaints for alleged unwarranted filming and unprofessional behavior on members of the K-pop group Enhypen during their airport security check last February.

READ: ‘Unwarranted filming, unprofessional behavior’: Enhypen’s fans complaints to NAIA, MIAA