Home>News>Resign or I will block your budget – House Speaker Romualdez to OTS head Aplasca; warns DOTr of sabotage

Resign or I will block your budget – House Speaker Romualdez to OTS head Aplasca; warns DOTr of sabotage

Romualdez and Aplasca
House Speaker Romualdez (left) and OTS chief Aplasca. (JERRY S. TAN)

An apparently exasperated House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is demanding for the immediate resignation of Usec Ma. O Aplasca, head of the Office for Transport Security (OTS), citing a string of theft incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals involving personnel under him since he assumed the post.

He also advised Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista to watch his back more sharply, saying he could be the target of sabotage.

In doing so, Romualdez cited the series of theft incidents involving OTS personnel, operation glitches as well as equipment malfunctions and disruptions, among others.

“There may be people sabotaging him,” Romualdez said of Bautista.

The House Speaker threatened that he himself will block the budget of the OTS, as he advised Aplasca to let go of his position before the House of Representatives takes up the budget of the OTS.

“Mag-resign ka na. Kung hindi ka magsa-submit ng resignation, ako mismo ang magba-block ng approval ng budget ng OTS…We cannot let these atrocious activities and other acts of misconduct at the airport to continue to take place. It’s bad for the country and the economy,” he stressed.

He also cited the principle of command responsibility in the case of Aplasca and stressed that his resignation will pave the way for a change in OTS leadership and an overhaul of its people.

Romualdez also cited that there had been several instances in the past, where passengers would complain about missing items from their bags or purses, noting how bad such incidents are for the country, its economy and tourism as well.

About six months ago, or on Febnruary 22, five personnel of the OTS assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 were suspended after two videos of them taking money from a transiting Thai tourist identified as Kitja Thabthim, went viral on social media. The videos were taken at the security screening checkpoint and uploaded on Facebook by Piyawat Gunlayaprasit, also a Thai passenger who was also departing at that time.

The first video showed an OTS personnel inserting something into the pocket of a colleague’s jacket. The second video showed Kitja asking the screening officer to return the 20,000 yen that was taken from him and the said OTS personnel handing back the money with a request for the video to be deleted.

On seeing the post, another Thai passenger, Saruta Jansila, reposted it and claimed to have had a similar experience on February 9. In Thai, Jansila wrote how thankful she was that Kitja was able to get evidence, regretting that she failed to at least take photos.

Passing through the same security check area, Jansila said she had found out that her 40,000 yen was missing. They demanded for a review of the CCTVs while OTS personnel talked to them, asking questions about their origin or destination and how they liked the Philippines. A security personnel then asked her to recheck her wallet and found the missing money but in another location of the wallet already.

“Hey! Surprise, money moved to 4 front pockets,” Jansila wrote in her Facebook Page, “People Who Like to Roam Around Japan,” stating that they have checked their bags and wallets repeatedly before finding their cash again.

Days later, another screening officer was caught on video stealing a Chinese passenger’s watch at the NAIA.

Passenger Sun Yuhong complained that his watch was missing in his bag after he was screened by Valeriano Ricaplaza Jr., 31. Ricaplaza was later nabbed by members of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group.

Itchie G. Cabayan
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