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Raffy Tulfo senses turf war amid alleged human smuggling incidents at NAIA

Amid alleged human smuggling at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Senator Raffy Tulfo on Monday said there could be a turf war going on there among concerned government agencies.

"I believe ito po ay away ng MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority), ng [Bureau of] Immigration, ng [Bureau of] Customs, ng [Bureau of] Quarantine, at kung ano pang mga awtoridad ng airport. Away 'to ng turf. Nagkabukulan," Tulfo said in his opening statement Monday at a Senate blue ribbon committee hearing.

(I believe there is a turf war among Manila International Airport Authority, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Quarantine and other airport authorities.)

During the continuation of the Senate panel's investigation, Tulfo questioned the phone call made by Police Colonel Rhoderick Campo, chief of National Capital Region Aviation Security Unit, to Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines acting Intelligence and Investigation Division chief Dionisio Robles asking to block the departure of the private plane that was involved in the alleged human smuggling incident.

"Si  Colonel Robles ay tumawag sa isa pang tao para kumonsulta. At sa pagpapasahan ng tawagan, nakalipad ang eroplano. Pero Colonel Rhoderick Campo knows better na hindi niya dapat tinatawagan si Robles. Ang dapat ginawa — alam ito ni Campo — ay tumawag siya agad sa tower at 'yung tower ay tatawag kay Major General Ricardo Banayat," Tulfo said.

"Kapag sinunod lang sana ni Gen. Campo yung sinabi kong proseso — control tower, then control tower will call General Banayat — then napigilan sana ang eroplano," he added.

(Colonel Robles called another person for consultation, and during this series of phone calls the plane was able to take off. But Colonel Rhoderick Campo knows better than call Robles. What he should have done -- and Campo knows this -- was call the tower and the tower would communicate with General Ricardo Banayat.

If only General Campo just followed the process I mentioned -- control tower and then control tower to General Banayat -- the plane would not have been able to leave.)

Tulfo then floated the possibility of bribes being given to the authorities.

"Bakit? Sinadya na tawagan ang maling tao sapagkat, ang tanong, sa magkanong halaga?" he said.

(Why? Because it seems like calling the wrong person was done on purpose. The question is, for how much?)

Authorities who were mentioned were not able to respond to the issue raised by Tulfo during the hearing.

The Senate blue ribbon committee is investigating an incident that happened on February 13 where a private aircraft that was supposed to carry only six passengers but was found to be carrying 14 was able to depart NAIA.

Passenger asked for yearbook

At the same hearing, Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Norman Tansingco said the agency  is currently retrieving the CCTV footage on the incident where an Immigration officer allegedly conducted a lengthy interview and asked a passenger to show her yearbook, causing the traveler to miss her flight to Israel.

"We have also a CCTV camera at the Immigration area. We're trying to retrieve also the recording considering that it happened December 22, 2022. Our limitation is, the period of recording, we only have 30 days recording capacity," Tansingco said.

This was disclosed after Senator Grace Poe asked for a copy of the CCTV footage to corroborate the passenger's claim.

"Because it's her word against his. Pero clearly ang hirap imbentuhin nu'ng storya na 'yon. So kung may CCTV do'n, malalaman kung unusually matagal siya do'n sa booth na 'yon... Baka puwedeng mahanap 'yung insidente na 'yon. Kasi baka nakursunadahan niya na 'yung pasahero e," Poe said.

(Because it's her word against his. But clearly, it is hard to invent that story. So if there is a CCTV there, we will know if the passenger was at the booth for an usually long time. Maybe the incident can be viewed on CCTV footage. The passenger may have been singled out.) —KBK/KG, GMA Integrated News