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Sunday, November 19, 2017 29° Mostly cloudy

Airport ‘welcomers’ are security nightmare

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By Floro Mercene

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) averages about 50,000 passengers daily, coming and going across the four passenger terminals.

Because of our cultural habit, this business of sending off and welcoming loved ones at the airport could never be stomped out.

Many may not realize it but this unique traditional way requires herculean efforts and lots of money on the part of the airport authorities.

“On average, the Media Affairs Department (MAD) dispenses 20,000 monthly ID passes, 15,000 semi-annually, 2,000 annually, and 6,000 daily for temporary workers. Visitors’ pass average one thousand per day,” according to Consuelo “Connie” Bungag, the chief of the Public Affairs Office (PAO).

This costs a lot of money for printing alone and the Manila International Airport (MIAA) has to put up an entire office called “Pass Control,” to manage the printing and dispensing of various kinds of access passes.

Major airports are considered high-profile but “soft” targets and are therefore usually given high security considerations.

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal said applicants for access pass are required to submit several documents, which are vetted by the airport’s Intelligence and Investigation Division, which conducts background checks on applicants as part of the proactive security measures.

Monreal said some 1,500 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are now under bidding. Once awarded, the CCTVs will be deployed not only inside the terminals but all the way to the perimeter fences.

Once the CCTV are in place, the airport management could deploy reclining seats in strategic areas so passengers could sleep soundly.

The airport authorities usually discourage passengers from sleeping because they are prone to having their personal belongings stolen, not by airport personnel but sadly, by other passengers.

The Office of the Assistant General Manager for Security and Emergency Services Bloc is the airport’s major security arm. It is composed of the Airport Police Department, the Intelligence and Access Management Department, the Screening and Surveillance Department, and the Emergency Services Department.

The NAIA’s Intelligence and Access Management Department provides the personnel to screen those who are given the access pass. Before an Access Pass is issued, all recipients attend a Security Awareness Seminar.

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