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Monday, July 15, 2024

Selective security screening

"Perhaps this is why the Chinese are treating us this way."

 

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We do not condone the behavior of ACT-OFW Party-List Rep. John Bertiz who berated an airport security screener, for being too strict on him as a departing passenger.

Bertiz alleged, however, that the same security personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 was more lax in checking a departing group of “Chinese-looking” passengers.

Now, let me make clear at the outset there is no racial undertone in my statement that the same strict security check should have been done on the Chinese, if indeed they were Chinese.

“The Chinese-looking passengers breezed through escorted by an airport staff,” claimed Bertiz, adding they were not made to take off their shoes while he was told to. This is standard security protocol but can be dispensed with at the discretion of security staff.

Since there was no official statement from the NAIA management office that the passengers referred to by Bertiz were visiting Asian diplomats or were members of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, then Bertiz has a point in being outraged. If our own airport personnel discriminate against a Filipino who’s a lawmaker at that, then that is why China does not respect our sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea. The Chinese continue to push their boundaries nearer our door by militarizing the South China Sea when they built airports and naval bases on man-made islands.

The video that went viral showing Bertiz scolding the screener was taken by another departing passenger. Bertiz demanded that the NAIA office produce a copy of the CCTV tape but was denied. He said this request like other requests for CCTV tapes showing security personnel planting bullets on departing passengers or their baggage being pilfered were not granted to members of Congress who want to investigate these criminal acts. Bertiz claimed the security officer was rude in ordering to him to take off his shoes even after he showed him his airport security pass issued by the MIAA. Fearing public rebuke, Bertiz has since apologized for his outburst. Next time he should bring his own cell phone camera to take pictures of erring airport personnel.

Passenger complaints on bullet planting and pilfered baggage have been rampant. To be fair, the MIAA has acted on these complaints which are now less with the suspension of a few security personnel.

***

On another mystery at Malacañang, questions are being asked why Mocha Uson appears untouchable. Uson has done enough damage to the image of the Duterte administration yet she remains as the Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Aside from not knowing her basic Philippine geography as shown by her misinformation that Mayon Volcano is in Camarines Sur, Uson has also been publicly denounced for making fun of the government’s proposed federalism form of government. More recently, she was shown laughing with her sidekick blogger Drew Olivar who was imitating the sign language used by persons with disabilities.

These are serious breaches by a public official and certainly not a laughing matter. Yet, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar defended Uson’s continued stay at his office by saying “the President appointed her and let’s respect his decision to keep her.” Andanar should get an A for loyalty.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque is doing a better job of parrying off brickbats against Digong than Andanar does. On the President’s statement that he’s only sin is the killing of illegal drug traffickers, Roque said the alleged admission should not be taken seriously as he explained that the President was merely taunting his critics. Roque said the statement delivered before the military establishment was made to highlight the fact that President Duterte has not stolen any money from the public coffers and that his only sin was “killing drug suspects.”

Whether said in jest or taken out of context, the President should be careful in what he says. His critics will readily pounce on it and as they said they would use the President’s admission as evidence in a case of human rights violations to be filed before the International Criminal Court.

The President’s supporters are quick to claim that the ICC, from which Duterte wants to withdraw Philippine membership, has no jurisdiction over the Philippine president. May we remind his supporters that it was what Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic thought so too before he was turned over to the ICC tribunal by his successor and the new Serbian government.

Milosovic died from cardiac arrest in his prison cell before the ICC could hand down a guilty verdict. We don’t wish the same fate for President Duterte. There is still time to change his ways to being a circumspect President rather than often shooting from the—not the hip, but the—lips.

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