The Office for Transportation Security (OTS), the controversial government unit some of whose members got involved in the so-called bullet planting scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, is in the news again.
One of its officers was arrested for allegedly stealing money from a foreigner at the airport last Monday, airport police said.
The Manila International Airport Authority - Police Department placed Nissan Abellon Villarino, an OTS screening officer assigned at the NAIA Terminal 2, under arrest following a complaint lodged by Jackie Freeman Yuen who accused the suspect of stealing money from his friend, a Hong Kong tourist.
The Airport authority immediately ordered the cancellation and revocation of the access pass of Villarino and placed his name under the agency’s blacklist of personnel.
“During inquiry, Villarino voluntarily submitted his written [statement] admitting that he took the cash from the tourist. The Airport Authority removed him from his posting and revoked his access inside the airport terminal as administrative charges are being filed against him,” said MIAA chief information officer Connie Bungag.
Bungag said the Airport Police Department was also “awaiting for (sic) a formal complaint to be filed by the Hong Kong Nationals at the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong so they can file a criminal case against Villarino.”
“The MIAA regards the act as highly contemptuous and an insult to the rest of airport workers who are mindfully doing their jobs to earn their keep,” she added.
In his complaint, Yuen said Villarino demanded money from the passenger for no apparent reason.
“Yuen’s friend, who spoke very little English, refused to give Villarino the bills, but the suspect insisted and took the money anyway,” the MIAA report stated.
The Hong Kong tourist traveled to the Philippines for a vacation together with a group of friends.
According to Yuen, he and his friends had just checked in for a Philippine Airlines flight back to Hong Kong on the afternoon of June 10 when they encountered Villarino at the final security screening of NAIA Terminal 2.
He said they had already passed through screening but one of his friends was pulled aside as the screener wanted to check his backpack manually.
Vilarino, according to Yuen, opened the backpack and removed the items one by one.
“The screener then pulled out the passenger’s wallet from the backpack, opened it, and pulled out two ) HK$1,000 bills from the wallet.”
The tourist looked for his other companions who spoke better English and asked for help.
His friends, who turned out to be lawyers, accosted the security screener and demanded Villarino to return the money.
“The security screener was taken aback when he found out that the victim’s companions knew how to speak English then returned the stolen money.”
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, Yuen informed airport officials about the incident after communicating with them through Facebook messenger.
In April last year, two OTS personnel were also accused of stealing money worth 1,700 Australian dollars from a Japanese national.
They were Stephen Bartolo and Demmie James Timtim, both OTS personnel assigned at NAIA Terminal 3.
The OTS is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation. Its personnel are responsible for the security screening of passengers and their baggage and cargoes at the airport.
In 2015, a number of OTS personnel got involved in the “tanim-bala” or bullet planting scheme to extort money from unsuspecting passengers at the NAIA.
All screening officers were reminded of a “No Touch policy, which stated that only passengers are allowed to touch and inspect their belongings during screening procedures.