Sen. Grace Poe said airport and immigration personnel found liable for human smuggling incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) should face the consequences.
In an earlier speech, Poe said a chartered plane left NAIA for Dubai on February 13 without a pre-flight inspection from the Philippine National Police and carrying passengers who were not on the plane’s manifest.
During Monday’s hearing, it was revealed that an immigration officer involved in the incident was relieved of his new post in the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) regional intelligence office pending an investigation.
Poe said the actions of the concerned officers showed clear violations of the protocols and will not set a good precedent if they remained unacted. “We expect decisive and correct actions from our airport and immigration chiefs on this matter to show respect for the institutions and to tell the public that irregularities will not go unpunished,” she said.
Poe also said she expects an update on the installation of CCTVs in the airport’s premises, including the area where private chartered flights take off. Airport authorities said the CCTVs outside the area were not working because they were designed to be solar-powered.
In the same hearing, BI personnel Jeff Pinpin admitted to members of the panel that he was off duty when he escorted various foreign passengers into a private jet during that said date.
For his part, Sen. Francis Tolentino, chairperson of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee noted that immigration personnel at the NAIA who reportedly escorted private plane passengers allegedly involved in human trafficking may be held liable for usurping public functions.
During the previous inquiry, it was revealed that Pinpin was the so-called “mystery immigration officer” who escorted foreign passengers to the private flight even though he was off duty during the evening of February 13.
In defending himself, Pinpin stressed that he was still waiting to be properly relieved, the reason why he remained on his post even after February 9. But Tolentino dismissed the Immigration officer’s alibi, saying that he has no business inside NAIA after February 9.
“So you were relieved? So you admitted you were also relieved, you now give discretion to the appowho’s your successor, right? you were already relieved, that’s already vacant. You were no longer there,” Tolentino said, as he continued to grill Pinpin.
According to Tolentino, it is clear under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code that any person who falsely represent himself/herself to be an officer, agent, or representative of any department “who under the pretense of official position shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority shall suffer the penalty of prison correctional in its minimum and medium periods.”