Airport Security

It is no wonder why international ports do not trust our local security.

Any traveller who comes from Philippine territory has to be thoroughly searched again and again once they reach their destination. The Philippine passport becomes a red flag in relation to the packages the traveller is bringing with him or her.

There are non-stop flights from Manila to LA and back. There are also some flights which have one or two stopovers between the two cities. I have flown to a couple of times and have familiarity with both types of flights.

When I was a teenager, I flew straight from Manila to LA. When I reached the customs department, my baggage did not just go through the x-ray machines but was opened by the personnel himself. He had his, probably filthy, rubber gloves go through my personal belongings. Finding nothing worth questioning or throwing away, he left it opened and in disarray for me to arrange and close them again. By this time, I thought that I have to brace myself every time I pass the US immigration.

Another flight proved that it didn’t happen every time. I flew once again from Manila to LA but this time, I had one stopover in Japan. As I recall, it was a two-hour stopover in Narita Airport. There, everyone has to go through tight security even if you’re not really entering that country. Everyone, including those who are just changing planes has to go through their x-ray machines and the hands of the personnel. Baggage are opened and inspected as well. Eventually, we flew to LA. And once the airport customs knew that we came from Japan airport, they didn’t bother opening our luggage.

Just recently, a Philippine government official was detained in Hong Kong for allegedly “drug trafficking”. Congressman Ronald Singson, son of the infamous Chavit Singson, was caught with 26 grams of coccaine when he entered Hong Kong airport. He left Manila bringing the package with him. Speculations on how he was able to take it out of the country and fly across to Hong Kong ended when a video was shown last night on the news. The video showed how he was treated by airport security. He was treated like a common public official, as expected with our local security. They didn’t even bother to have his luggage scanned in the x-ray machine. And he did not even pass the metal detector.

Security personnel in the country should start paying attention once again. This incident verifies the fact that they lack the sense of responsibility and initiative to do their job and to do it well. They should be the one to know that there is no special treatment despite the “badges” displayed in front of them – especially by government officials. No one is exempted by the hassles of airport security no matter how high up you are in the social ladder.

To be fair to our local security, I also have to cite that almost the same, but not as serious as this, happened in one of the U.S. airport (after the 9/11 incident). Special treatment was given to Britney Spears in one of their airports. Have you experienced having to throw your water bottle before you enter a certain part of the airport? Well, I did. And for someone like me who values clean drinking water, it is hard to see personnel throw it in the trash, along with my body creams and cologne bottle, and toothpaste and a lot more. I couldn’t complain and I can only cringe at the act. Everyone has to comply. Well, a TV show called TMZ showed that Britney Spears was able to bring with her her Big Gulp drink as she passes throught the metal detector. And no one bothered to take it out of her hands and throw it in the trash can. Of course, nobody would think that there is something explosive in her drink. But still, the remarks were not kind with the airport personnel who let her have her drink.

I wouldn’t mind discrimination practiced in airports. Although the word “discrimination” may be objectionable, it poses necessity. Security must discriminate prudently in cases when it is impossible to search every nook and cranny the traveller brings with him.

When I was to leave Philadelphia airport just recently, I went through the body metal detector and my luggage went through the x-ray machine. When I was asked to pass the body x-ray machine, I refused because I told the personnel I was pregnant. The personnel said that it was safe for pregnant women. I still told them that I don’t want to risk my baby’s health. The personnel was a little irritated pointing out the note beside me that says it was okay for pregnant women. I wanted to tell the security that the sign will still not guarantee my child’s safety. So what they did was ask a female personnel to put on her gloves and start examining my whole body – head to toe.

If they could do that to a pregnant woman in the States, why can’t they do the same thoroughness with the our government officials, celebrities and the like here in the country?

When I reached our Centennial airport first week of August this year, I was reprimanded by the customs because I was talking on my cellphone like most of the travellers were doing. Due to the early landing of the plane, travellers were calling whoever is picking them up to come earlier than expected. Well, the customs personnel was irritated at me for speaking on the phone, instead of looking at him read my disclosures on the arrival card. Of course, before I even knew he was irritated, I got off the phone to give him my full attention but it didn’t matter because he was already annoyed as I approached his desk.

After he reprimanded me, he asked what was in my luggage. I told him my laptop and clothes and some food. He gave me back my passport and let me pass. What kind of security was that? Was he really doing his job? I wouldn’t really like the hassle if he asked me to open my bags and inspect everything and leaving me alone to arrange it again. But what if I carried with me illegal items from whereever I came from? Talk about slacking and paying attention to the wrong things just so he could impose his superiority over the traveller. A big difference between the Centennial airport and the Philadelphia airport.

It takes a village to make improvements in the security standards of our country, not just our airports. And it wouldn’t take modern and expensive technology to make it happen. It would only take diligence and great prudence in the part of our government workers. But what would it take to make them work like that? I wouldn’t know.

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2 Responses to “Airport Security”

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  2. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun its transition of moving secondary screening from the gate area to security checkpoints. Bags Cases

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