Senator Grace Poe slammed airport officials after videos of a robbery incident inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 went viral.
The videos show Thai national Kitja Thabthim being victimized by airport security staff who stole roughly P8,000 from him before he left to return to Thailand. They were recorded by another Thai national, Piyawat Gunlayaprasit, on February 22.
In a press briefing held Monday, February 27, the senate committee chair on public services expressed her dismay over the incident that “could hardly affect the government’s tourism campaign”.
“Nung nakita ko yung video na yun, talagang nakakagalit at nakakahiya. Isa na namang problema ito sa reputasyon ng NAIA, ng ating airports,” Poe said.
“Parang magician di ba? Parang ang bilis na nangyayari…may kamay ba na sumusulpot doon sa ilalim? So ngayon kapag dumaraan ang gamit mo doon talagang tututukan mo na kasi baka may mawala,” she added.
Earlier, the Office of the Transportation Security (OTS) under the Department of Transportation said in a statement that they have relieved the involved security staff and an investigation is currently underway.
But Poe believes that they should be charged criminally.
“Kasi theft yun. So meron talagang possible criminal liability, hindi lang administrative kasi yun lantaran. We need high-resolution CCTV footages, so we can see who are involved. We know that not every airport personnel is a scalawag, we need to distinguish the bad eggs from the good ones and exact accountability,” she stressed.
According to a report, 4 of the involved staff were job-order employees hired last year while the other one is a contractual employee for 5 years now.
“There is no excuse in committing illegal acts even if you’re needy. But the reality is if you are sorely lacking because you are not paid right, it is much more enticing to do this nonsense,” Poe also said.
Gunlayaprasit posted on Facebook six days ago that while he was standing in line at NAIA Terminal 2, he heard Thabthim complaining that he lost his money.
“I was holding an iPad. I saw the Philippine officer doing it secretly and took a video. It turns out that she put the money that she had stolen from a Thai brother to put it in the pocket of a short-haired officer. The officer said that there was no CCTV camera to contact the central office about the lost money. When we walked into the scanner, I quickly walked to tell the Thai brother that I recorded a clip. But I’m not sure that she stole it,” Gunlayaprasit said.
“At that time, I couldn’t do anything right. There was no security guard, there was no police. It’s like a procession [sic]. I can only take a clip and shout loudly. But I don’t know what to do. If I want to get out of there, [the woman] begged [in] the elevator to remove it,” he added.
He added that he is aware that there “were people who [had] been hit like” Thabthim, but there’s no evidence. “But today, I have it. This is an example for those who change planes in the Philippines.”