Two Manila airport security staff have been charged with theft after stealing money from a Japanese tourist.
Stephen Bartolo and Demie James Timtim admitted to stealing 1,700 Australian Dollars — about 68,000 pesos —from Yuka Sakata during a baggage inspection at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last week.
Both suspects were included on a “stop list” by the airport authority and had their passes revoked, a statement from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said yesterday (Monday, April 2).
Mr Sakata was at the pre-departure area for his connecting flight to Cebu when he discovered that money in his carry-on luggage was missing last Wednesday (March 28).
Airport police and security officers came to his assistance and were able to identify Bartolo as the one who conducted the baggage search at the arrival gate.
Bartolo then admitted taking the money after being shown CCTV footage of him removing something from the bag and putting it in his pocket. He immediately returned two 50 dollar notes.
He also claimed that he gave some of the money to his colleague Timtim. Four 50 dollar notes were then found in his jacket.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade has expressed outrage over the incident.
Speaking in Filipino, he said: “Shame! That’s it! They damage the image of our airports and the whole of the Philippines. I’m going to make sure that they are punished and will not be employed by our airports anymore.”
Ed Monreal, General Manager of the airport authority, warned that the full force of the law would come down on any corrupt airport staff.
“We will not tolerate corruption and theft in NAIA. I encourage our passengers to report to us incidents like this, and I will make sure that these personnel will have their time in jail,” he said.
DOTr spokeswoman Godess Hope Libiran said: “Authorities are still investigating where the balance of the money is. We just need to make sure that the claim that the AUD 1,700 stolen from the Japanese national is true.
President Duterte has long warned airports across the country to put a stop to baggage theft, pilferage and scams.
Under new guidelines, staff who handle baggage should all wear body cameras. They are also banned from carrying cellphones or wear jewellery. Their uniforms must not have pockets and their footwear must not be loose-fitting.