Office of Transportation Security protest at Ninoy Aquino International Airport shouldn't have happened

January 17, 2019

HEARD it’s ‘all well that ends well’ between the airport workers and management of the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) -- for now.                                                    

Before this, the New Year at the airport was greeted by airport screeners wearing red armbands as they staged a silent protest while carrying out their usual functions, over a string of issues affecting their work and their financial benefits.

The OTS personnel, tasked with manning the initial and final security check areas in every airport in the country, carried out their protest well as they did not opt to abandon their posts despite their grievances.                                                        

Among others, the protesting personnel claimed the OTS management failed to give what is due them financially, among them their annual performance base bonus, their leave credit conversion, team building allowance, salary standardization and the P15,000 per year incentive as announced by no less than Malacañang.

The OTS management claimed the issue had been explained to the personnel involved as it investigated those participating in the silent protest, a move was chided by the personnel concerned, saying it is an attack on their freedom of expression, as they also assailed threats of an administrative case for those who join such protests.                                      

OTS spokesperson Liza Abacan bared that in 2016 alone, OTS employees held a team building, with an allocated allowance of P2,000 per person but the management allegedly through our ATM, deposited only P500 per person.                           

Abacan also said that the OTS failed to increase the salary of every employee saying they are still at salary grade 4 when they should have already been getting salary grade 8.                                                                                     

The OTS management reportedly told the OTS personnel that the Department of Budget Management (DBM) refused to allocate a budget for OTS employees and assured that the OTS management has already requested the DBM for the salary standardization of OTS employees.                                                               

“So may pera ang OTS pero hindi lang binibigay sa amin,” was how Abacan described the situation.                                                                                             

The budget of OTS comes from passengers terminal fees, both international and domestic. From the P550 terminal fee per international passenger, the OTS gets P60 and P15 from every P200 paid by each domestic passenger.                        

Reports have it that the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) remitted to the OTS management P451 million for international fees and P131 million for domestic from January to November 2018.                                    

The OTS was created by former President and now Speaker of the House of Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through an Executive Order similar to the US Transportation Security Agency (TSA).                                             

It was learned that the MIAA hired an additional 178 OTS personnel who are now undergoing intensive training, which is one of the recommendations of the TSA. These 178 personnel will be receiving their salaries from the MIAA.                         

In a chat with some OTS personnel, this column learned that their superiors have assured that their demands will be met which is just alright, since what they are asking for is what is simply due them.                                                                           

Problems like a silent protest -- which could have gone as far as a walkout or job abandonment -- should have no place in an office like the OTS, whose role is deemed important in keeping our airport terminals safe.  These are the people assigned at the initial and final security check areas.                                         

Let us hope that the OTS authorities will keep their word and give what is rightly due the employees and not wait for their personnel to take actions that would compromise public safety or put the agency to shame before they finally do what is right and proper. Duh.

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THANKS TO VIKINGS OFFICERS -- A bunch of regular customers would like to greet, thank and commend Ms. Hershey Apor, senior dining manager of  Vikings at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City and another officer, Clarence Reclamado.               

They said that despite the heavy load of customers during the holidays, the two, specially Ms. Hershey, attended to them with much gusto and patience.                     

The same praises were heaped by them on Jeffrey Lejano, who used to head that branch and is now handling another, saying he was just as accommodating as Hershey and continues to be so. Kudos to Vikings for the kind of people running their restaurants!

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