Airport security

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Saturday, January 19, 2013


WE WANT tourism to prosper in our area. We cannot survive with the sugar industry alone. At least, we are happy to know that our local leaders are in unison in pushing that the Bacolod Silay Airport should be made ready to accommodate international flights.

Our preparation should not just be temporary. We need to complete the logistical requirements and we want competent Immigration personnel to handle the needed equipment. We are also moving heaven and earth that the Regional Development Council officials should act like knights in shining armor so that the airport runway could be extended to accommodate bigger planes in the near future.

Among others, the airport security should be given utmost priority. Our airport is a commercial service airport using antiquated X-ray machines. We have no effective system of asking passengers about themselves and their itinerary. We do not have state-of-the-art scanners to detect plastic explosives. Our fences around are not constructed in such a way to keep the people out in case of extreme emergency. These not-so-favorable atmospheres worry our aviation experts. This holds true with the other domestic airports in the country.

We want the immediate accommodation of Korean golfers coming to our province to beef up our economy but we have to listen also to Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David, Jr: if we want to handle international flights, then we must have the international capability.

I don’t want to overreact here but there is a need for us to link up with the Interpol. We must have the data needed to identify who have hold departure orders, who are on the hot list, and who are the terrorists. We need to test our capability. Probably, one agency here can make a security check by having an unarmed hand grenade inserted in the luggage. We want to test the reliability of our metal detector.

I just want to ask, “If there is an imminent terrorist act monitored by the Secretary of National Defense, who in our airport has the security clearance to receive the warning?” In cases like this, specifics are not given. We need to review our security system and coordination strategy. The inner circle in the airport security should have the full knowledge of who have the security clearance so that the troops involved can be informed right away and the appropriate response can be made quickly. I do not underestimate the capability of the airport authority although they have not seen high octane action yet.

Probably we can come up with improved security measures: through inspection of baggage compartments and cabins of all planes flying in and out of Negros Occidental, strict scrutiny of all luggage, meticulous screening of mails and packages, and authentication of passengers ID cards. Airline companies should design bomb-proof luggage compartments and panels should be structured in such a way that bomb blasts are directed away from the passengers and the vital systems of the plane. We need trained dogs as sniffers for plastic explosives. Plastic explosives are hard to identify because they can be molded to any shape.

The making of our Bacolod Silay Airport an international airport could be an asset to the province and an opportunity for the Negrosanons but there are things and situations to be considered. We have to be very careful because our wish might come true and we may not be ready for reality.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 19, 2013.

Opinion

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