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CCTV captures OTS swallowing $300 taken from Chinese passenger at NAIA

(left) Photo shows the OTS personnel swallowing the $300 taken from a departing Chinese passenger while ignoring a passenger inquiring from her. (right photo) An OTS supervisor stands beside the OTS personnel accused of pocketing money from a departing passenger who is seen covering her mouth with a handkerchief.

CLOSED-CIRCUIT television (CCTV) recordings at the NAIA Terminal 1 had shown a personnel from the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) swallowing the 300 US dollar bills taken from a departing Chinese pssenger in an apparent move to get rid of the evidence when the said passenger complained about losing his money right after his bag passed through the security check area.

This was bared by records from airport authorities, who identified the involved OTS employee as a female security screening officer (SSO), while stating that her supervisor and an x-ray operator also played a role in the said incident.

The chronological events as stated in the official report and captured via video footages of the departure final screening checkpoint (DFSCP) began at 8:18 p.m. of September 8, 20233, where the complainant, a certain Mr. Cai, was seen wearing a white polo and blue maong pants and appearing at the departure final checkpoint or DFSCP and placing his shoulder bag on an inspection tray.

About a minute later, the complainant passed through the Advanced Imaging Technology Machine and the SSO brought the tray containing said bag to the inspection table and conducted a manual search.

When the SSO finished inspecting, the report said she ‘suspiciously turned away while apparently holding something in her left hand with her fist tightly-closed… she then swiftly placed something on her left torso/waist area and went back to the inspection table.’

The complainant returned to the screening area when he discovered that his wallet was open and had several bills missing.

A subsequent ocular inspection at the DFSCP was made for possible recovery of the missing money and to ensure that available CCTV cameras around the areas are to be viewed thoroughly.

“After documentation, the SSO was referred for further inquiry wherein her MIAA seasonal access pass was confiscated, considering the circumstances of her suspicious body movements initially seen during the review of the CCTV,” the report said. She was released at around 12:50 a.m. of September 9, to the custody of her supervisor.

A follow-up was made at around 3 a.m. for a thorough review of another CCTV footage where the events were captured at the DFSCP beginning at 8:39 p.m. It showed a confrontation between the complainant and the SSO, her supervisor, a passenger service agent, a male Philippine National Police member and one from the Airport Police Department. There, the x-ray operator was seen handing over a bottled water to the suspect SSO whom authorities described as ‘edgy and restless.’

The suspect SSO turned her back but was unaware that she was actually facing a camera where she was clearly seen deliberately swallowing the dollar bills folded into one small piece, while ignoring a lady passenger behind her who was making an inquiry.

She was seen to be having a hard time swalllowing the bills despite drinking the bottled water earlier given to her, the report stated.

The male supervisor then approached the suspect SSO and “was seemingly communicating with her as the latter is obviously almost choking in her effort to swallow the dollar bills while using her hanky to cover her mouth.” The supervisor, according to the report, was ‘apparently ensuring that the bills are dispatched to preclude any evidence.’

Complainant Mr. Cai was brought by the airport authorities. Later, however, when they tried to contact him based on his complaint form, Mr. Cai never answered or replied.

At around 4:40 p.m. of September 16, Mr. Cai was spotted at the departure boarding gate.

“Evidently, Cai did not return to Manila earlier after the incident but never made any contact with authorities regarding his complaint,” the report said.

Airport authorities proceeded to the Boarding Gate 16 at Terminal 1 and coordinated with an airline representative to inquire with the complainant regarding the filing of a ciminal case against the subject SSO but Mr. Cai expressed unwillingness, the report added.

Findings have it that “the CCTV footage clearly shows that the (suspect) SSO, with intent to gain, took the USD300 of Mr. Cai during her inspection process and was clearly in the possession of the stolen money as she deliberately swallowed the paper bills to avoid getting caught. In addition, supervisor…and x-ray operator… who gave the water bottle …appeared to be in connivance relative to the execution and subsequent evasion on the consequence of herein illegal act of SSO….”

Itchie G. Cabayan
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