CLARK FREEPORT --- Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto urged Malacañang to put up a “presidential action desk” at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other major airports including Clark International Airport (CIA) that will handle missing baggage and other incidents.
In a press statement, Recto underscored the need to establish the complaint desks “so that the country’s 50 million air travellers will have an on-the-spot trouble shooting center to go to.”
The senator said the “reported rash in the theft of checked baggage” in airports should prompt the establishment of a “Palace detachment” in major airports.
Recto said that merely setting up a desk carrying the presidential seal will already serve as a deterrent against all forms of airport irregularities.
Recto recommended that the one-stop action center be named “Duterte Action Desk” (DAD).
“Eh di ba, ang uso ngayon isumbong kay Tatay Digong? Kung ganoon, maglagay na doon sa mga paliparan ng DAD – Duterte Action Desk, para lahat ng reklamo ora mismo maaksyunan,” Recto said.
He said a “fear factor” is needed if social media posts about luggage pilfered or emptied of their contents are true.
“For those flying in from abroad who have lost their belongings, we don’t know if the stealing was done here or outside the country. But at the very least, there should be a help desk that victims can go to,” Recto said.
Recto added the “DAD” will not just be a complaint center. “It can also receive commendations for good service rendered.”
This as Recto called on the government to smash the syndicates in airports that are stealing from the bags of passengers, and use its huge income from air travel to institute measures that will keep baggage “safe, intact and protected.”
“Kung totoo ang mga reklamo na tila may Maleta Gang, dapat mahuli na ang mga iyan. Wala na ngang laglag-bala, pero kung may laslas-bag, perwisyo pa rin yan sa mga OFW na pinaghirapan ang mga pasalubong, tapos nanakawin lang pala,” Recto said.
He cited the recent case of a Clark airport inbound passenger whose bags were totally emptied of their contents by private ground handling employees who have since been charged in court.
He said the quick response by Clark airport authorities should be the template that must be followed by all airport managers.
But more than fast action, Recto said “investments that will increase transparency in baggage handling, like CCTVS, are needed.”
“Baka pwedeng kabitan ng CCTV ang dinadaanan ng mga bagahe. Kung kinakailangang magkwintas ng body camera ang mga handlers, gawin natin iyon, tutal mura lang naman ang mga ito,” he said.
Recto said global PR drives packaging the country as a fun hotspot are negated by the bad press “of mulcting taxi drivers and stolen luggage.”
He cited the theft of the jewelry of the wife of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last August, for which four NIAA baggage handlers were arrested.
“’Yang Maleta Gang— ang negatibong epekto niyan sa turismo ay tulad din ng damage na ginawa ng Maute,” Recto said.
He said money should not be a problem in transforming our major airports’ image as an “honest institution,” and overcoming a bad reputation inflicted by “a few bad eggs working there.”
“Yung Manila International Airport Authority tumiba ng P11.9 billion gross noong 2016. Yung Tieza naman, P4.6 billion ang sinahod mula sa Travel Tax. Sa parte ng CAAP, na nagpapatakbo ng mga paliparan maliban sa Manila, Cebu at Clark, halos P8 billion ang kinita noong 2016.”
“May P831 million din na nakulekta sa pasahero bilang Aviation Security Fee. Lingid sa kaalaman ng pasahero, P15 ang ASF kung byaheng lokal, at P60 naman kung palabas ng bansa,” Recto said.
“Kung ganoon, di ba dapat na pagtuunan rin ng pansin ang ‘security’ ng mga checked-in na bagahe ng mga pasahero? Sa ngayon kasi nakatutok tayo sa terorista at hijackers sa himpapawid, pero dinededma natin yung mga mandurukot sa lupa.”
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on January 20, 2018.
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