Your letters and online comments
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.