MIAA slams OFW’s ‘theft’ claim

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) yesterday branded as baseless the claim of a Filipino deported from Saudi Arabia that certain items had gone missing in his checked-in baggage when he arrived 17 November at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The deportee, Andrew Montes, was seen in a video circulating on social media in which he insinuated the items, including a gold necklace, mobile phone and cash, were stolen from his baggage.

MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal appealed to passengers to be aware of airline regulations and standard operating procedures on baggage handling, including their not accepting responsibility for undeclared valuables included in check-in luggage.

Monreal called on Montes to exercise prudence in airing complaints on social media after a check on the body-worn cameras of airport crew who handled Montes’ flight did not show any irregularities.

“Accusations that are baseless do not help our country. We should be calm and always look thoroughly at things. In this incident, NAIA’s reputation had taken a hit anew. It’s saddening,” Monreal said in Filipino.

Montes said it was not his fault that he did not have the valuables in his carry baggage, pointing out that Saudi authorities did not allow him and his fellow deportees to carry anything with them to the plane.

He said the Saudi officers forced them to put all their belongings in their baggage.

MIAA coordinated with the ground handler of Saudia Airline which reported no irregularities were seen in the handling of the baggage to warrant a full-blown investigation.

Saudia informed Montes that the airline cannot be made liable for undeclared valuables placed inside checked-in baggage.

Nonetheless, according to sources, at least 11 previous Saudia flights have had reports of Filipino deportees claiming missing items from their baggage.

The Civil Aeronautics Board confirmed that Montes appeared before it on 20 November to report the alleged theft and to seek help. However, the matter was not logged in the CAB’s records because he left without filing a formal complaint.

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