Immigration personnel protest restrictions at Naia

MANILA, Philippines–The areas accessible to immigration, customs and quarantine personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) just got smaller in the effort of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) to beef up security at all four terminals.

This prompted Bureau of Immigration Airport Operations Division head Julius Cortez to write MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and ask him to extend the reach of immigration personnel at the terminals, citing immigration laws that allow them to board planes to do their job.

“I respectfully recommend that our access zone be extended to the green ramp zone as stated in the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 that says immigration inspectors can go aboard and search for aliens on any vessel or other conveyance. Thus, access to most airport areas is necessary,” Cortez said in the letter.

Under a new policy, the airport access pass issued to immigration officers this month limited them to the immigration area or red zone.

Special flights and chartered flight crew members and passengers are to be processed only inside the terminals. Immigration officers are not allowed to perform final document inspections beyond the final X-ray check at the departure areas in all four Naia terminals, including the domestic building.

Honrado explained in a phone interview that it was not just immigration personnel whose movements were being restricted.

“This is the policy even for other airport personnel. Why would they be in an area where they don’t have business in?” Honrado said.

The new measure also confines customs and quarantine personnel to their work areas.

Defending the measure, Honrado said each immigration unit at the Naia was given “on-duty passes” that extend their access to areas at the airport “in cases when they need to.”

“We found a solution to that by giving them on-duty passes. But not all of them can go beyond their access pass,” he said.

Recently, security at the MIAA was breached when undocumented overseas Filipino workers were able to sneak past immigration counters and unauthorized persons got past airport security by wearing fake IDs and passes.

On Nov. 7 last year, airport police arrested a man attempting to climb into a wheel well of a Japan-bound jetliner about to take off.

The month before, an MIAA employee was found to have escorted four illegal workers to the Naia Terminal 1 departure area and given them airport business passes. The four were able to bypass the departure process and board their flights.

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Immigration personnel protest restrictions at Naia
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