US security chiefs issue warning on security at Manila’s airport

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned that the security at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport does not meet international standards.

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In a travel advisory issued yesterday (Wednesday, December 26) the DHS said it has determined that NAIA “does not maintain and carry out effective security consistent with the security standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)”.

It directed airlines issuing tickets for travel between the US and the Philippines to notify passengers in writing of this finding. It also directed that the travel advisory be displayed prominently at all US airports providing regular flights to Manila.

The DHS said representatives from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have been working with the government to assist airport and transportation authorities to bring NAIA up to international standards.

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“We are collaborating closely with the Philippines’ Department of Transportation and related agencies, and have every confidence in their leadership and their commitment to improve aviation security.  

“Philippine authorities have worked diligently to improve security measures and we fully expect that they will soon meet ICAO security standards,” US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said in a statement today.

Kim added that the US State Department had approved $5 million for airport improvements at NAIA to include training and technology improvements.

The ICAO, a UN agency that works with countries to create international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS), said in its 2018 safety report published in August that the Philippines effectively implemented SARPs by 70.48 per cent, up by 10.01 percentage points from February 2013.

In a statement yesterday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) claimed that the ICAO determined that security at NAIA was “generally satisfactory“, but added that the TSA recommended the installation of new X-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors and alarm systems. These are expected to be installed by next summer.

In the meantime, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has ordered the hiring of additional guards.

The TSA has also recommended stricter background checks for newly-hired airport personnel, particularly all-access pass holders. The DOTr also said it is retraining existing staff.

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