Security is, and will always be, a top concern of every traveler.
And with an increasing preference for air travel, the issue of security gets even more heightened focus.
Hands down, air travel remains the fastest and most convenient mode of transportation. However, faced with an ever-increasing volume of commercial passenger flights, the need to have better security at the country’s airports takes prime importance.
In the past, security perception at the country’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), had always taken a negative turn.
This was mainly because of the public notice on security conditions issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security (US-DHS) in December 2018.
It was a notice that might have driven travelers away from visiting the Philippines. But undeterred, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) and its attached agencies, such as the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), headed by general manager Ed Monreal, and the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), headed by Undersecretary Raul del Rosario, have taken the notice as a challenge.
It was a challenge to show that government remains focused in delivering on its commitment to secure the safety of air travelers at all cost.
In December 2019, all that hard work paid off as the US-DHS lifted the public notice, saying that the Philippines was able to make significant improvements in the security operations at the NAIA.
The US-DHS added that MIAA and the OTS were able to demonstrate their willingness to work toward improved security arrangements.
It was a welcome development which have affirmed the strict drive of the country to provide needed safety technical components and better serve the public.
It is also evident that technology plays a major influence in the improvement of security protocols at the main gateway.
We are now beyond the manual checking and pat-downs as the NAIA now uses modern equipment for the screening of luggage and passengers.
Proof of this continuous development is the recent visit by inspectors from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the US-DHS on 7 February 2020.
The TSA auditors, together with national aviation security auditors from the OTS, wrapped up their latest security audit of terminals and US-bound airlines operating at the NAIA.
As for the audit’s findings, the TSA inspectors were satisfied with the improved security measures and technology now being implemented at the country’s main gateway.
During the exit brief hosted at the MIAA, the TSA auditors extended their gratitude to the Philippine government and announced the good news on the security improvements following evaluation that protocols have been set in place to assure the safety of air travel from the Philippines to the United States and vice versa.
The security audit covered areas such as airport and aircraft security, aviation security management, landside security, passenger and baggage screening, hold baggage screening, access control, perimeter security and training of security personnel.
Specifically, the TSA inspectors were impressed with the use of high-technology security and screening equipment at the NAIA terminals, such as the dual view x-ray machines with an automatic tray return system, which have been deemed effective in reducing the queue at the various security screening checkpoints.
TSA lead inspector Jose Liriano made it clear when he stated that there were no findings to the assessment they conducted. He even added that they appreciate the new technologies and equipment provided at the airport and that they are grateful with the improvements made by the government.
More than ever, the DoTr is confident that the positive assessment of TSA on the security operations at the NAIA will affirm the hard work being put on by airport officials to safeguard the lives of Filipinos and visitors coming to the country.
As a country that is known for its vibrant tourism, transportation, much more on the aspect of security and safety, will always be front and center.
As Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade puts it, “Security is a never-ending process. It is a commitment.”
It is for this reason that your DoTr will not just stop from this development. We will sustain and consistently improve our efforts to ensure the safety and security of our countrymen.