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On July 6 my wife and I ar­rived at Manila Air­port at 1400 for our 1630 flight to Aus­tralia. Ter­mi­nal 2 is de­signed in a V shape and used ex­clu­sively by Philip­pine Air­lines, with do­mes­tic on one side and in­ter­na­tional on the other. It also has ad­di­tional se­cu­rity checks. At the first check, se­cu­rity guards en­sure you have your pass­port and a valid ticket to fly that day. Mem­bers of the pub­lic are not per­mit­ted in­side the ter­mi­nal, so farewells are made in the fore­court.

The sec­ond se­cu­rity check is car­ried out im­me­di­ately as you en­ter the ter­mi­nal, prior to check-in. Here you have to re­move all elec­tronic de­vices and metal ob­jects to be scanned by the x-ray, along with all your bag­gage (in­clud­ing checked bags).

Our two suit­cases came through the other end quite promptly, but there was a de­lay with my back­pack. Af­ter a cou­ple of min­utes I was called over by the x-ray at­ten­dant and was ad­vised I had an un­usual ob­ject in my back­pack – a bul­let, which was in one of the un­locked side pock­ets of my back­pack. I was asked to ex­plain how the bul­let got there.

I was quite alarmed. I have read re­ports in the me­dia that air­port per­son­nel have placed bul­lets in pas­sen­gers’ lug­gage – os­ten­si­bly to elicit a bribe. I did not feel com­fort­able deal­ing with the x-ray at­ten­dants and promptly in­sisted on deal­ing with the air­port po­lice.

The po­lice ar­rived within a cou­ple of min­utes and I ex­plained what had oc­curred. They ad­vised that I would not be charged but they had to carry out se­cu­rity checks on my wife and I. They asked for our pass­ports. Af­ter ten min­utes a se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer re­turned our pass­ports and con­firmed we would not be charged. I ex­plained that I had never owned a gun or any am­mu­ni­tion and was con­cerned at what had oc­curred. The po­lice of­fi­cer ad­vised that we were not un­der any sus­pi­cion and we were told there would be no fur­ther ac­tion. (Pres­i­dent Duterte de­crim­i­nalised a sin­gle bul­let in pas­sen­gers’ lug­gage back in July 2016, as long as there was no ac­com­pa­ny­ing firearm.) We had to sign an in­ci­dent re­port and got through the rest of de­par­tures, im­mi­gra­tion and a fi­nal se­cu­rity check with no other is­sues.

On a pos­i­tive note, Philip­pine Air­line’s new busi­ness class Van­tage XL seats on the re­fit­ted A330s are a quan­tum im­prove­ment on the old seats. The ser­vice by the cabin crew was also ex­cel­lent, com­ple­mented by the im­proved menus. Philip­pine Air­lines is now a vi­able al­ter­na­tive for Aus­tralian busi­ness trav­ellers, par­tic­u­larly as the Qan­tas flight from Mel­bourne re­quires a do­mes­tic con­nec­tion via Syd­ney, plus a trans­fer from the do­mes­tic to the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal in Manila, adding three hours to the jour­ney.

David James, Aus­tralia

MANILA IN­TER­NA­TIONAL AIR­PORT AUTHOR­ITY RE­SPONDS:

Please be in­formed that the Manila In­ter­na­tional Air­port Author­ity (MIAA) gov­ern­ment body that op­er­ates the four Ni­noy Aquino In­ter­na­tional air­port (NAIA) ter­mi­nals, firmly up­holds that there was no ir­reg­u­lar­ity in the ac­tions of the said screen­ing per­son­nel – who sim­ply fol­lowed stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure.

Fur­ther­more, let us em­pha­sise that not a sin­gle pas­sen­ger has missed a flight due to a re­cov­ered piece of am­mu­ni­tion since the new ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Duterte took of­fice. MIAA is proud to say that the “tanim-bala” (“bul­let-plant­ing”) ex­tor­tion scheme is a thing of the past. We hope to have en­light­ened you and your read­ers on this. Thank you.

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