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OTS revamps airport screeners nationwide

Office for Transportation Security (OTS)

Beginning this Monday (March 20, 2023), the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) will be implementing major organizational changes to enhance line of supervision and emphasize accountability at each airport station nationwide. Apart from personnel re-assignment, the OTS took sweeping actions to address the recent spate of theft incidents at the airport security screening checkpoint.

OTS administrator Ma O Aplasca said the strategic organizational reform initiative will include the transfer of Security Screening Officers (SSOs) from the National Capital Region to other regional airport stations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and vice versa.

Aplasca added that to ensure adequate supervision and the needed check and balance in security screening operations, the OTS designated more responsible and capable Regional Chiefs, Terminal Chiefs, Shift Supervisors and Checkpoint Supervisors who shall oversee and supervise the daily operations at the airport.

The OTS, he said, similarly initiated the deployment of eight National Aviation Security Auditors at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to regularly conduct audits and inspections, to ensure the sustained implementation of security measure, adding such effort shall be replicated in all other airports nationwide.

Since the assumption of the present administration, Aplasca said there were drastic measures implemented centered on a three-pronged approach: Preventive (awareness and advocacy program), Corrective (spon-on corrections and subjecting personnel to re-training) and Punitive (imposition of administrative sanctions and ultimate penalty of dismissal).

“From 2022 up to March 10, 2023, there were a total of 61 personnel sanctioned. Of this number, 18 were dismissed; 26 were reprimanded; three were suspended and 14 were submitted to our Legal for review. These were for various infractions committed ranging from violation of the OTS No Tipping Policy, improper disposal of security prohibited items confiscated at the security screening checkpoint, involvement in theft and extortion, facilitation, and failure to turn over left behind items,” Aplasca said.

He added: “Of this number and after factual investigation, the OTS finds SSOs Irene Medalla and Babeth Tagapan who were seen in a video taking money from a Thai national last February 22, 2023 at NAIA Terminal 2 guilty, and therefore ordered dismissed from service. The other conspirator guilty of the infraction is undergoing dismissal procedures following Civil Service rules and regulations for Contractual personnel.”

Additionally, SSO Valeriano Diaz Ricaplaza Jr, who was arrested by the PNP Aviation Security Group on March 1, 2023 for the unlawful taking of a watch owned by a Chinese national was likewise dismissed from the service motu proprio while six personnel identified to be involved in the case of Enhyphen were reprimanded for violation of the OTS Standard Operating Procedures.

To prevent similar infractions, the OTS issued a directive on the “One Strike Policy” effective March 1, 2023 to reiterate command responsibility and a separate directive prohibiting the wearing of jacket, pants with pockets, as well as the prohibition in the wearing of jewelries while on duty.

Apart from its administrative authority over its personnel, the OTS coordinates with law enforcement agencies to assist the victims in filing appropriate criminal charges against its personne, to show its aggresive stance to address illegal activities perpetrated by its very own personnel.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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