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Blue Ribbon investigation on NAIA ‘human smuggling’ scheduled on Tuesday

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has scheduled on Tuesday the start of its investigation on the alleged human smuggling at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Senator Grace Poe has said.

The office of committee chairman Senator Francis Tolentino confirmed the scheduled hearing.

Poe said there were "major security risks" that were uncovered in the incidents even if the allegations of human smuggling have yet to be verified properly.

She cited the ease with which persons entered the airport's restricted areas on the tarmac where the planes were.

"Eh kung may nagsingit ng kontrabando na kung anuman doon sa nakaparadang eroplano na yun, 'di ba?" Poe said.

(What if someone tried to bring some contraband?)

"That is a major security risk," she added.

Further, Poe questioned the absence of CCTV in the area when there are cameras in the baggage handling portion of the airport.

"There are no CCTV cameras there. It's such a crucial [measure]," Poe said.

Last week, Poe said officials from the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) must appear in the hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee to explain the alleged human smuggling in the country's main gateway.

In a privileged speech on Wednesday, Poe called on the Senate to investigate possible human smuggling activities using private planes.

She raised an incident that happened on February 13 involving an aircraft operated by Cloud Nine No. 1 Leasing Company Ltd., a Hong Kong-registered leasing company whose aircraft was handled by local company Globan Aviation Service Corporation.

The Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP) received an anonymous tip at 3:09 p.m. last Monday that six passengers had been declared for a flight set to depart for Dubai at 10:00 p.m. that night, but that the plane—with tail number N92527E—actually had 14 passengers, Poe said.

Despite efforts to stop the departure of the aircraft, Poe said the private plane took off at about 10:40 p.m.

Poe said this was not the first time an incident like this has happened in NAIA.

In December 2022, she said, some Chinese nationals managed to leave the country on a private aircraft without pre-flight inspection clearance.

According to Poe, this was reported to the MIAA, but no action was taken.

For its part, MIAA earlier said it will continue the investigation even after they gathered initial information on the incident which was raised by the senator.