Two airport personnel from the Office of Transport Security (OTS) were charged with theft after admitting that they stole money from a Japanese tourist during baggage search at the initial entrance of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3’s departure area last Wednesday, 28 March 2018.
OTS Intelligence Agent Aides Stephen C. Bartolo and Demie James P. Timtim admitted to conniving to pocket 1,700 Australian Dollars (AUD) or roughly PHP68,000 of Japanese National Yuka Sakata.
Mr. Sakata was already at the pre-departure area for his connecting flight to Cebu when he discovered that his money in his hand-carry was missing.
Airport police and security officers were quick to assist Mr. Sakata and immediately conducted a re-enactment of the incident. During the re-enactment, Mr. Sakata positively identified Bartolo as the one who conducted baggage search at the arrival gate.
During interrogation, Bartolo admitted that he took money from Mr. Sakata’s wallet. The CCTV footage also showed that Bartolo took something from the bag of Mr. Sakata and discreetly placed it in his pants pocket. Bartolo immediately surrendered two pieces of Fifty Australian Dollars.
During the follow-up interrogation, Bartolo revealed that he gave some money to his colleague, Timtim, who was the incoming duty personnel at the arrival area. Four pieces of Fifty Australian Dollars were recovered from his jacket.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade expressed his utmost dismay over the incident. “Mga sira-ulo yan. Nakakahiya! Ipa-kulong yan! Nakasisira sila ng imahe ng mga airport natin at pati ng buong Pilipinas. Sayang ang pagpapagod ng buong DOTr upang maituwid ang baluktot kung may mga kurakot at magnanakaw pa rin na kagaya nila! Sisiguraduhin kong mapaparusahan ang mga ‘yan at hindi na makatatapak pa sa ating mga paliparan,” said Tugade.
Apart from being charged with theft, the two intelligence aides also had their NAIA passes revoked/cancelled, and were included in the Stop List of personnel by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA).
For his part, MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal warned that the full weight of the law shall be brought upon corrupt airport personnel. “Walang lugar ang mga corrupt at magnanakaw sa NAIA. Hindi na uubra ‘yan. I encourage our passengers to report to us incidents like this, and I will make sure that these personnel will have their time in jail,” said Monreal.
The DOTr, MIAA, and other airports in the country have been directed by President Duterte to put a stop to baggage theft and pilferage. Apart from implenting stricter guidelines in baggage handling, ground handling companies were also warned that should a personnel of theirs will be found guilty of theft, the company’s contract will be suspended or terminated. The MIAA recently terminated its contract with MIASCOR after six of its employees were found guilty of stealing items from an Overseas Filipino Worker last January.