Airport screener nabbed for alleged theft

MANILA – Authorities arrested a screening personnel for allegedly stealing a watch from a passenger at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 on Wednesday.

The Office for Transportation Security (OTS) said at around 2:30 a.m., Security Screening Officer Valeriano Ricaplaza Jr. allegedly took the watch of a foreign passenger while undergoing the security screening procedure.

The OTS added that Ricaplaza initially denied the act when asked by the passenger. However, CCTV footage showed that Ricaplaza took the item, the OTS said.

Ricaplaza was arrested and is currently under the custody of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group for further questioning.

In a statement, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Cesar Chiong said the management strongly condemns such unscrupulous, illicit and selfish act.

“Theft violates the trust and integrity required of public servants, and has serious negative consequences for the airport, its stakeholders, and the country as a whole,” he said.

On Monday, the OTS reported that six cases involving erring personnel are being looked at. These include violation of the “No Tipping” policy, violation of the proper disposal of intercepted prohibited items, extortion, among others.

The recent alleged extortion from a Thai passenger went viral on social media.

House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto said the incident only worsened the image of the country’s main gateway.

“A few erring OTS employees have dealt the nation a black eye. Na-tag na nga ang NAIA as one of the world’s worst airports, lalo pang pinalala ng insidenteng ito (NAIA’s previous tag as the world’s worst airport has been worsened by this incident),” Recto said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sought for comment, OTS administrator Ma. O Aplasca said the management will aggressively address the issue.

“Tama po si (House Deputy Speaker) Recto kaya we will aggressively address this issue. We want show the Filipinos na hindi masayang yung budget na binigay sa OTS,” he told the Philippine News Agency.

The arrest of another corrupt screening officer, he said, is a manifestation of the OTS’ commitment to cleanse its ranks of scalawags that destroy the country’s reputation, Aplasca said. (with Zaldy De Layola/PNA)