Passengers traveling via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) no longer have to unpack their bags before entering since an X-ray machine is already being used, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal.
The airport official made the clarification Wednesday night after he was quoted in an ambush interview with reporters at the House of Representatives as saying passengers would have to "divest" the contents of their luggage before being allowed entry into the airport.
Asked by GMA News Online about his pronouncement to the media earlier, Monreal said he was "not aware of that proposition."
"They got me wrong here. As currently baggage passes thru X-ray already. Why divest the content from the baggage," he said.
Monreal said security protocols at the airport are already strict, adding that the NAIA just recently passed a US-Transportation Security Administration audit.
"There are layers of security procedures in place already from check in to the boarding of passengers done by airlines and other stakeholders," he said.
In the ambush interview with House reporters, Monreal expressed the need to "divest" contents of passengers bags, following incident involving an American woman who was caught hiding a 6-day-old boy in her bag at the NAIA last month.
"Pinag-aaralan din namin na lahat ng dadaan sa security protocols, kailangan i-divest yung laman ng bag or whatever para mapilitan. Pinag-aaralan namin together with OTS (Office of the Traffic Security) para magawan ng solusyon," he added.
Jennifer Talbot, a 43-year-old American, hid an infant in an oversized belt bag and neither declared nor presented them to the immigration officer before her supposed departure via the NAIA Terminal 3.
Monreal said they will make sure that such incident will not happen again at the airport.
"One thing we have to do, especially the gates, the airlines have to be reminded that they have to make sure that these passengers are well accounted, passengers are examined properly," he said.
The National Bureau of Investigation has filed a complaint for qualified human trafficking against Talbot.
The baby, meanwhile, is already in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Monreal said they will ensure the safety of the passengers at airports, especially with the anticipated influx of travelers as Christmas gets nearer.
"Usually what we do is what we have done last year and in several years back, ganun din ang gagawin natin na paghahanda na kailangan lahat ng facilities are okay, we'll meet with the airlines para maayos ang pag-uusap, maayos ang schedules natin," he said.
"Meron kaming sariling oplan na manned by the management team. Meron tayong medical tests para mapangalagaan kung meron pang pangangailangan ang mga pasahero. Marami, samu't saring bagay ang gagawin natin to make sure that they have a comfortable and safe flights when they go to our airports," he added. —Joahna Lei Casilao/MDM, GMA News