THE role of airport security is to confiscate dangerous items from luggage, but travellers have recently found the opposite is true.
Staff have allegedly been planting bullets into the bags of unsuspecting passengers at Philippines’ Manila Airport.
Legislators have called for an investigation into the supposed racket that extorts money from passengers by threatening to charge or arrest them for carrying illegal ammunition, the BBC reported.
“This is becoming an international embarrassment,” said Sherwin Gatchalian, a member of the tourism committee in the House of Representatives, according to theBBC. He warned that the offenders were “not afraid to prey on foreigners.”
A Filipino worker and Japanese tourist were the latest passengers to be detained in the swindle at the Southeast Asian nation’s main gateway. Other targets have reportedly been taken to court for refusing to pay fines.
The allegations, which have dominated local news, prompted the United Nations to warn its staff of the potential dangers and the government to install extra security cameras at Manila’s airport terminals.
They also come ahead of the Philippines hosting US President Barack Obama and other world leaders for the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit on November 18.
Responding to the media frenzy, Transport Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the scam had been “blown out of proportion” but confirmed cases had been filed against security officers over two alleged extortion attempts.
“A single case of any passenger … charged or victimised by planting (bullets) is unjust … it merits full government attention,” Abaya told reporters.
Abaya did not elaborate on whether the security personnel were facing criminal or administrative punishment, but said President Benigno Aquino intended to fire anyone involved.