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    X-MAS at NAIA

    November 20th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Giant Xmas tree at NAIA 2 greets Pinoys returning for holidays. Image by GMA Network

    AIR travelers can’t help but stare at the unique, avant-garde Christmas tree at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with a bright, fun and funky colors.

    The Christmas tree was lit up on Monday evening by Philippine Airlines (PAL) President and COO Jaime J. Bautista and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal at the Terminals 1 and 2, ushering in the holiday season at the country’s premier gateway.

    We want this Christmas tree to be a beacon of hope and goodwill that illuminates the dreams and wishes of everyone celebrating Christmas with their families this year,” Bautista said.

    The distinctive pop art installation, replacing the traditional pine tree, greets arriving and departing passengers at Terminals 1 and 2, respectively, and will do so until the end of January next year.

    According to PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna, the flag carrier commissioned Miguel Miñana and ThemeWorks (an event firm) to give the airport terminals a different decorative twist for the holiday season.

    The goal of the designers is to transform the businesslike terminal spaces into the “streets of Manila,” evoking the sound and colors of the mega-city that sprawls beyond the confines of the airport, she added.

    The twenty-feet Christmas tree has pop art panel installations that rise to the ceilings of the airport lobbies. It has cut-out stands of the jeepneys, kalesas and sorbetes (ice cream) carts. The color schemes of the two terminals evoked the Philippine flag – blue for terminal 1 and red for terminal 2.

    This Christmas tree is meant to project a uniquely Filipino spirit, honoring the fun-loving, creative and passionate people who make our capital city such a dynamic and unforgettable place. So, when citizens of faraway nations come to visit our country, they will feel and see that there’s no Christmas like a Pinoy Christmas,” Bautista added.

    The Christmas displays offer photo opportunities for selfies and group photos for arriving tourists and returning Filipino family members at terminal 2, where the Christmas tree is mounted outdoors at both the arrival and departure lobby foyers.

    Meanwhile, the Christmas tree in the check-in lobby of terminal 1 offers a fitting pictorial remembrance for passengers before departing to distant destinations.

    PAL emphasized that while PAL maintains its international and domestic hub at terminal 2, the airline operates six international flights out of terminal 1 – to Canada and select Middle East destinations. Flights arriving from Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco are also at terminal 1.


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    OTS asked Arroyo to remove shoes

    November 13th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara


    House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Image ©

    AN Office for Transportation Security (OTS) personnel broke protocol when he asked former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to take off her shoes as she passes a security checkpoint at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport recently.

    This despite the alleged coordination between airport security officials and the Presidential Security Group team responsible for Ms. Arroyo’s security. This prompted some airport officials to chastise Joel Rosanto, the security personnel who made Ms. Arroyo walked barefooted, for “stepping over the line.”

    Ms. Arroyo was on her way to the departure area at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where she is to board a Japan bound plane last October 27 when she was stopped by Rosanto for failing to remove her shoes. Despite the seeming disrespect, the former president gamely removed her shoes, walked barefooted and passed through the security checkpoint.

    Arroyo returned on November 8 and was met by apologetic airport officials.

    A video of the incident shows Rosanto preventing Ms. Arroyo from passing through the security checkpoint without removing her shoes as required. The same video also showed the PSG escorts of Ms. Arroyo confronting Rosanto after she passed through the security checkpoint.

    When interviewed by reporters on Monday, Rosanto insists that Arroyo’s group failed to coordinate with the OTS hence he asked the former president asked to remove her shoes.

    Trabaho lang po sa akin (it’s my job as a frisker),” Rosanto said who was the team leader at that time. “Sorry, we are just doing our jobs.”


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    Unclaimed airport terminal fees to be kept until refunded to its owners — MIAA

    November 7th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    THE unclaimed airport terminal fees of overseas Filipino workers will be remain in a trust fund and refunded to its owners once claimed.

    Thus pledged Manila International Airport (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal on Wednesday after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said anew that the money should be refunded to their rightful owners.

    “The amount is kept by MIAA in a trust account and is distinct and separate from the agency’s corporate funds. The money does not belong to MIAA. It will remain in the trust account until fully refunded to the passengers who own them,” Monreal said, stressing that OFWs can claim it anytime.

    He added that domestic terminal fees remitted to the MIAA now totals PhP172,333,700. This amount came from Cebu Pacific Air/CebGo and covers unused tickets while a total of PhP105,320,679 was remitted to the MIAA by 18 international carriers. This amount pertains to international terminal fees left unrefunded by OFW and non-OFW passengers.

    (Read More:

    The MIAA said the total amount remitted by air carriers amounts to PhP277,654,379 as of November 6.

    “This is contrary to the PhP500-million which came out in news reports earlier this week,” Monreal clarified.

    Meanwhile, the MIAA said an OFW need only to present the pertinent documents to make a claim.

    “OFWs only need to present their copy of the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) and ticket among others, to refund,” the MIAA explained.

    On the other hand, the MIAA added, non-OFW passengers with unused airline tickets may refund by showing their ticket or proof of purchase and ownership or certification from the airline that they were not able to take their flight.

    MIAA GM Ed Monreal Photo ©

    As this developed, Monreal said Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has given the order to transfer the funds to the appropriate agency if directed by the authority vested with the mandate to decide on the matter.

    On Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) clarified a statement regarding the call of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to refund the PhP500 million terminal fees and travel taxes paid by OFWs departing from different international airports in the country.

    CAAP said it collects terminal fees only on its seven international airports namely Puerto Princesa, Davao, Gensan, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Kalibo and Laoag, which are seldom use by OFWs in leaving for their destination abroad.

    “This is complicated further because it is the airlines the collect terminal fees.”

    The country’s aviation regulator said that the CAAP is an attached agency of the DOTr, just like separated airport authorities such as the NAIA, Clark, Mactan Cebu and Lalo (Cesa). These authorities have their own refund procedures as well.

    Travel taxes are normally included in the ticket fare and are being collected by Tieza, under the Department of Tourism.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. Image © Rappler

    Bello recently asked the CAAP anew to refund PhP550 million in terminal fees collected from OFWs.

    Bello noted that OFWs are also exempted from paying travel tax.

    He said DOLE has sent another letter to the CAAP reiterating its request for the regulator to stop collecting terminal fees from OFWs and to return the collected fees to the OWWA.


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    OFW who killed Arab employer in self defense is back home

    November 2nd, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Jennifer Dalquez flanked by her parents. Photo by Manila Bulletin

    JENNIFER Dalquez the overseas Filipino worker who was acquitted for killing her employer four years ago in the United Arab Emirates returned home Friday.

    Arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board Philippine Airlines flight PR657 from Abu Dhabi, Dalaquez was reunited with her parents Rajima Hamid and Abdul Hamid and met by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) personnel.

    Dalquez, upon landing, expressed her profound gratitude to the Philippine government especially to President Duterte for her release from jail.

    Nagpapasalamat po ako sa ating gobyerno at kay Pangulong Duterte sa tulong na ginawa para makalabas ako ng bilangguan (I thank the government as well as President Duterte for their efforts of getting me out from imprisonment),” Dalquez said at a press briefing held at the NAIA terminal 1.

    Dalquez killed her employer in self defense as he tried to rape her in December 7, 2014.

    Reports said the Court of First Instance heard her case in March 2015.

    The Philippine Embassy in UAE appealed her conviction and successfully had it overturned by a local court in 2017.

    Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Office of Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said the DFA has exhausted all legal remedies to see to it that she would be able to return home and be reunited with her loved ones.

    Arriola said Dalquez received assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and financial assistance from the DFA, OWWA and the Department of Labor and Employment, and scholarship to her child as well.

    Dalquez and her parents will briefly stay at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) before flying to her hometown in General Santos City.


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    Terminal fee hike for NAIA set next year

    November 1st, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    THE Manila International Airport Authority has increased the international and domestic flights terminal fee to enable the country’s premier airport to cope with the rising cost of operations and improvements.

    This after the MIAA board decided to approve the minimal fee increase following public hearings.

    MIAA general manager Ed Monreal said the terminal fee adjustment would be implemented in the second quarter next year since the last time the management increased terminal fees was 1999.

    “Historically, maliit lang ang terminal fee sa NAIA, mataas sa Cebu at Clark airports (our terminal fee is lesser than Cebu and Clark airports),” Monreal said during the Kapihan with Art held at the NAIA terminal 1 on Wednesday, adding that it is necessary in order to maintain and improve the facilities.

    According to Monreal, the NAIA terminal fee is cheapest compared to Mactan Cebu International Airport which charged international passengers with PhP850, and PhP300 for the domestic passengers. Subic Bay International Airport the rate is PhP650 for international and PhP150 for domestic. At Clark International Airport, its terminal fee is PhP600 for international while PhP150 for domestic.

    The NAIA terminal fee hike for international flights (International Passenger Service Charge) will be PhP200 thus increasing the IPSC from PhP550 to PhP750, and for domestic flights, the rate increase is PhP100 thus raising the present PhP200 rate to PhP300. The increase will take effect in April 2019.

    The terminal fee hike, Monreal stressed, is also to cover the airport operational expenses such as on infrastructures and service improvements, and other expenses. The new terminal fees will also be included in the plane tickets and paid by the airlines.

    The airport chief pointed out that the proposed adjustment is also part of the airport’s rehabilitation plan.

    NAIA has history of international terminal fee increases – from April 1, 1993, was PhP250 and it increased to PhP300; then to PhP500 in April 1, 1994, and in April 1, 1999 it raised to PhP550.

    While the domestic flights, MIAA charged passengers from PhP100 to PhP200 in September 2005.

    Monreal said terminal fee exemptions are still in effect to overseas Filipino workers, athletes, children below two years old, and government officials with official travel.


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    Ghanaian held at NAIA over fake Canadian visa

    October 30th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    IMMIGRATION authorities at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport foiled an attempt by a foreign national to use the Philippines as jump-off point to Canada, it was reported today.

    Abdul Wahab Issah, 36, was apprehended at the NAIA terminal 2 on October 21 after officers of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) discovered a fake Canadian visa on his passport.

    BI Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said Issah has a scheduled flight to Toronto but was immediately collared after immigration officers noticed the bogus Canadian visa.

    Issah, who is now detained awaiting deportation proceedings, later admitted that he bought the fake visa it for US$6,000 from a fraud syndicate in his country.

    Consequently, Medina instructed all immigration officers nationwide to increase their vigilance in monitoring foreign travelers to ensure that syndicates will be unable to take advantage of the coming holidays to smuggle aliens in and out of the country.

    Recently, the bureau has reshuffled some 200 members of the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) at all international airports including the NAIA. The move was one of the numerous changes aimed to prevent fraternization, which has been pinpointed as a major source of corruption in government agencies.

    The TCEU is a special team of immigration officers whose task is to conduct secondary inspection of arriving and departing international passengers especially arriving foreigners who have doubtful purpose in entering the country and departing Filipino tourists who may be victimized by human traffickers and illegal recruiters.


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    Taguig hospital upgrades equipment

    October 28th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Taguig Pateros District Hospital. Image by Google Sites

    TAGUIG City residents need not to go to private hospitals to avail high-quality healthcare service.

    This after city residents were assured that the “probinsyudad” is not left behind when it comes to high-quality innovations and modern upgrades in healthcare following the recent installation by the city-run Taguig Pateros District Hospital (TPDH) of brand new medical equipment that will surely provide better healthcare services to Taguigeños.

    Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano said among these high-tech apparatuses are the C-Arm, a medical imaging based on X-ray technology, and an endoscopy machine which is used for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (to look into the esophagus, stomach and small intestines), lower gastrointestinal endoscopy (rectum, colon) and bronchoscopy (lungs).

    The hospital also acquired modern blood-clotting devices such as the Erbe electrocautery machine and Argon plasma coagulator.

    Argon plasma coagulation (APC) is a form of electrosurgery that helps control internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, liver and spleen, among others. The equipment uses argon gas turned into plasma, aiding clotting when sprayed on the lesion. The electrocautery machine heats tissues with electricity to prevent or stop bleeding after an injury or during surgery.

    The city hospital now also has its own Mammography Center and CT Scan facility equipped with a Siemens Somatom 16 Slice CT Scan, a Digital X-Ray and a Digital Mobile X-Ray. These equipment provide high-quality images with lesser waiting time.

    On top of all these addition is a brand-new laparoscopic machine. It enables doctors to operate on a patient’s abdomen through small incisions, with the aid of a camera.

    “With the installation of this machine, doctors don’t need to do massive incisions to patients,” explained Dr. Timoteo Neil Trinidad, chairperson of the Department of Surgical Sciences and head of the ER Trauma Department at TPDH. The laparoscopic machine allows the surgeons to do a minimally invasive procedure which is associated with less pain and less danger for the patient. With the laparoscopic surgery, patients enjoy a shorter hospital stay as long as they do not encounter complications.

    A laparoscopic machine has many uses, but is particularly well-suited for procedures like cholecystectomy — the surgical removal of the gallbladder, hernia (luslos) and gastrointestinal perforation. Dr. Trinidad explained that almost all surgeries are possible with the amazing capability of the laparoscopy machine.

    Presently, three to four surgeons in TPDH are skilled on the use of the laparoscopy procedure, acknowledged as one of the very highly skilled procedures in the field of medicine. Only surgeons who are accredited or who have a specialization in the area can do the operation.

    Dr. Trinidad said that the plan to purchase new medical devices in the future is always there. He explained that they will keep on researching new equipment that are more advanced, user- and patient-friendly.

    “With these state-of-the-art upgrades of TPDH medical facilities, we assure our residents that the city government is determined in providing the best healthcare services,” Mayor Lani said.

    Since her first term in 2010, the lady mayor has helped raise the quality of the facilities at the city hospital. TPDH now operates the Taguig City Human Milk Bank, the Taguig Social Hygiene Drop-in Center, a TB-DOTS clinic and its own Home Health Unit, which provides free home-care nursing services for bedridden patients.

    In 2015, the Department of Health recognized TPDH as a Mother-Baby Friendly Hospital.

    The city makes it a point to enroll indigent patients to PhilHealth’s Point-of-Care Program. The program allows financially incapable patients – either non-members classified as Class C-3 or D; or members not covered due to the lack of qualifying contribution and classified as Class C-3 or D — to get the medical treatment they need.

    TPDH also implements Philhealth’s “no-balance billing” scheme which makes medical treatments for indigents free-of-charge.

    The local government of Taguig intends to continue finding ways to provide top-class medical services to its constituents without sacrificing the essence of public service: affordability and accessibility.

    “What we want is for every Taguigeño to avail in our very own hospital the same quality medical service private hospitals offer — without them having to travel far or pay as much. Everything that we have done so far is for the greater good of our constituents,” Cayetano added.


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    Abide airport security rules, the MIAA asked the public

    October 25th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    AIRPORT officials on Wednesday appealed to the public to abide the strict security rules being implemented at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

    Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Ed Monreal said the “old culture” must be set aside in order for the airport to maintain its Category 1 rating.

    The NAIA has been on heightened alert since obtaining the rating thus subjecting all stakeholders, as well as airport users, to much stricter security rules.

    According to Monreal during the Kapihan sa NAIA, since NAIA has been rated Category 1, the MIAA should keep to maintain such category rating.

    NAIA’s Category 1 status symbolizes its compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.

    To maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance, according to a website.

    “The present set up was part of the findings of external security audit. And we have to improve our security to maintain the Category 1 rating,” Monreal said adding that the MIAA has continued complying security audit to keep from being downgraded. The external audit, Monreal said, is an international standard.

    The external security audit includes the inspection of airside, the distance of the runway, and complete lighting.

    The auditing group is comprised of US-Federal Aviation Administration, Transportation Security Administration, Homeland Security, Canada, Australia and the Office for Transportation Security of the DOTr.

    Stakeholders and airport users as well as visitors have undergone strict security check particularly at the airport sentry.

    Airport officials and employees riding on a vehicle at the airport’s ramp were being asked to alight to undergo body frisking.

    “No one is exempted. All of us were being frisked by security personnel detailed at the ramp area,” MIAA assistant general manager for security and emergency services Arnulfo Junio said.

    (Read More:

    On his part, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo has expressed that everything is being addressed when it comes to security, “we are not letting our guard down. We are always on alert.”

    He added that the Philippines have more than 70 percent global average, which means that our aviation is out of danger of being downgraded to Category 2.


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    PAL ferry service in Boracay

    October 24th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    PAL Spkesperson Cielo Villaluna

    AN affiliate of flag carrier Philippine Airlines will soon provide ferry service in Boracay to draw more tourists in the island resort.

    PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the airline on Tuesday held a Mabuhay Maritime Express Naming Ceremony at Esplanade Seaside Terminal in Pasay City followed by a cruise to a coastal paradise at Pico de Loro Beach and County Club in Nasugbo, Batangas.

    Mabuhay Maritime Express Transport Inc., also known as MME, is a subsidiary of PAL Inc., which was established in August 2016, according to Villaluna.

    “MME will initially provide ferry service between Kalibo and Boracay, and vice versa utilizing brand-new 42-meter catamarans,” Villaluna said.

    Mabuhay Maritime will particularly cater to PAL’s airline passengers, PAL said.

    Meanwhile, in anticipation of the re-opening of Boracay island (Malay, Aklan) on October 26, PAL will resume flights between Manila and Caticlan, Cebu and Kalibo. The airline also has reminded its passengers that a pre-booking with a hotel is required as a prerequisite to enter the island of Boracay.

    “The Department of Tourism will be implementing to a ‘no booking/no entry policy’ and will be setting up a verification booth at the Caticlan Airport and the Kalibo International Airport. Passengers are advised to book their stay with officially-compliant establishments,” PAL said in an advisory.


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    Customs seizes juvenile snakes

    October 18th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday confiscated 12 juvenile pythons at the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City.

    Port of NAIA Collector Carmelita Talusan said the exotic snakes were concealed inside a package and “were misdeclared as Taro chips from Indonesia.”

    Market price of these newly-hatched snakes ranges from PhP5,000 to PhP20,000.

    Photo by Benjamin Lim Vergara

    According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), a full-grown reticulated python snake, which is considered the world’s longest and heaviest snake that usually constrict its prey, can weigh as much as 30-40 kilograms and grow as much as 17 to 18 feet on an average.

    The BOC-NAIA noted that importation of such wildlife species without the necessary permits is a violation of Section 117 in relation to section 1401, CMTA, RA 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation & Protection Act) and Republic Act No 8485, otherwise known as The Animal Welfare Act of 1998.

    The non-venomous python snakes which recently arrived in CMEC were turned over to DENR representatives led by lawyer Andres Mikhail Villaruel for proper handling and protection.

    Talusan stressed that in the first two weeks of October 2018 alone, in its dedication to protect the public, the environment and the Philippine wildlife, Port of NAIA has apprehended one live mangrove snake and 250 live Gecko lizards which were also turned over to the Bureau of Animal Industry and DENR.


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    BOC turns over used clothing to DSWD, seized drugs as well as live snake

    October 12th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday has turned over about 120 boxes of abandoned clothes and pillows, bedding and blankets to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for use of Typhoon Ompong victims.

    BOC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said the items and personal effects came from delayed luggage of passengers, who arrived earlier at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from abroad. He added that some passengers have abandoned the items since they did not claim it despite the several notices sent to them by the bureau.

    Perlita Panganiban of the DSWD disaster response assistance management said the clothing would be disseminated mostly to the 43,072 families in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) that were affected by the typhoon.

    Lapeña said the released of assorted items is in compliance to President Duterte’s directives to give the seized clothing to the typhoon victims.

    Meanwhile, the BOC also turned over a mangrove snake to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as cocaine, shabu, and kush marijuana to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

    Customs officials said the live mangrove snake or gold-ringed snake was intended for export to Taiwan when intercepted.

    According to a website, the Boiga dendrophila, commonly called the mangrove snake or gold-ringed cat snake, is a specie of rear-fangedcolubrid from southeast Asia. It is one of the biggest cat snake species, averaging six to eight feet in length. It is considered mildly venomous.

    Furthermore, the BOC said some PhP850,000 worth of marijuana leaves, PhP1.434 million worth of suspected metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and PhP12.345 million worth of suspected cocaine were turned over to the PDEA.

    The marijuana, which was concealed in a portable heater, was consigned to a certain Raven Delosa from Quezon City came from United States.

    The shabu, which came from the United Kingdom, was declared as baby dress and birthday card, and consigned to Joy Bido Mariel of Dasmariñas, Cavite. Mariel was later arrested on September 22.

    The cocaine, which was declared a supplementary sheet, came from Sao Paolo, Brazil was consigned to Johnmel Natividad of Caloocan City.

    Talusan said, to date, Port of NAIA has a record-breaking of 27 drug busts in span of six months from April to October 2018 and has been hitting and exceeding their revenue collection target for the months of May to September 2018.


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    Another breakthrough for MIAA

    October 10th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    THE Manila International airport Authority which runs the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The country’s premier airport, has another breakthrough by earning an ISO certification under ISO 2001:2015 standards.

    The certificate was awarded by the International Standards Certification (ISC) Global, MIAA’s current certifying body. ISC-Global is one of the pillars in developing ISO standards and among the fastest growing certification body in the industry.

    “The Authority has sustained the spirit of ISO 9001 by complying with the standards and requirements and thus achieving a successful transition to the 2015 version,” the MIAA said in a statement.

    MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal received the ISO 9001:2015 certification.

    MIAA’s certification journey started in 2008 when it first earned its ISO certification under ISO 9001:2008 standards.

    ISO 9001:2008 is focused on meeting customer expectations and achieving customer satisfaction. In simple terms, it is customer-focused, the MIAA said, adding that “under this standard, an organization should ensure continuous improvement in its products and services to meet customer requirements.”

    The MIAA pointed out that internally, the organization will be benefited from increased job satisfaction, improved morale, and improved operational results.

    On the other hand, risk-based thinking is the focus of ISO 9001:2015 standards.

    Besides meeting customer expectations, organizations are now encouraged to use risk analysis in order to address challenges in their business processes.

    The concept of risk is paramount in the 7 quality management principles of ISO 9001:2015 namely customer focus; leadership; engagement of people; process approach; improvement; evidence-based decision making and relationship management.


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    Bullied Office for Transport Security screener will not file raps vs Party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz, fears for his life

    October 10th, 2018

    Benjamin Lim Vergara

    NAIA security ID issued to Aniceto Bertiz. Photo by GMA Network

    OUT of fear for his life, the bullied screening officer of the Office for Transportation Security screening officer will no pursue his complaints against Party-list Representative Aniceto Bertiz 3rd before the Pasay City Prosecutors Office.

    This even after the video footage of the incident shows that there is a strong chance that Congressman Bertiz could be prosecuted and possibly convicted with the “crime of resistance and disobedience to a person of authority.”

    OTS head executive assistant Napoleon Cuaton said that Hamilton Abdul, 27, came to the OTS office with his father on Tuesday saying he will no longer pursue the filing of complaint against Bertiz.

    “It’s up to them, mahirap pilitin kasi siya ang involve (we cannot force him to file a complaint), but I told them the OTS is here whenever you need our help and we will support any of our employees who are doing their jobs in accordance with the law in securing the airport from passengers who might bring terror,” Cuaton stressed.

    He added, “we will not abandon our staff especially in this situation.” Cuaton said Bertiz has violated Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code.

    Abdul is newly married and has a twin to his wife but upon the advice of his father, he decided not to pursue the case.

    Bertiz was caught on video bullying an airport screener shoving his airport access pass at Abdul and snatching the man’s identification card after the OTS screener asked him to remove his shoes as part of security measures being implemented at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on September 9.

    (Read More:

    Later, Bertiz apologized for his behavior attributing his outburst to a “period” he gets once a year. His remarks drew flak from women’s group. The ethics committee of the House of Representatives are now discussing if they will sanction the party-list representative.


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    PAL warns against counterfeit airline tickets

    October 7th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Philippine Airlines has expressed concern about the proliferation of scams where “cheap” airlines tickets together with fake identification cards are sold to the unsuspecting public.

    This after the PAL has observed the rise in number of people being victimized by scammers on social media like Facebook selling fake airline tickets.

    PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the modus operandi involves bulk-buying of tickets that are then sold at low rates via social media sites.

    “Individuals who are enticed to purchase these tickets are eventually informed that the tickets are in the name of fictitious people; the buyers are then offered fake IDs for presentation at airport check-in.”

    Despite several announcements made against scam, many consumers are falling prey to various modus operandi because of proliferation of fake airline tickets that has been sold “cheap” online.

    PAL Express head of security Jorge Amba revealed that several passengers caught using fake IDs has increased over the past months.

    The airline reported that as of October 5, 2018, there were 68 apprehensions in different airports around the country, mostly in Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Bacolod and Clark.

    “Since the tickets were bought online in bulk under different (fake) names, passengers who bought cheap round-trip tickets were also supplied with fake IDs by the sellers,” Amba said, adding that “our airport front liners are trained to distinguished counterfeit IDs. So if you presented a fake ID, you will surely miss your flights and will have tons of problems.”

    There is a criminal liability if passengers caught using fake identification cards and can be charged with violation of Article 178 – Using Fictitious Name and Concealing True Name and Article 172 – Falsification of Public Documents of the Revised Penal Code, which has corresponding penalty of imprisonment from one month or 2 to 6 years, respectively.

    Amba noted that the law has been in existence for decades, but advancement in technology and social media has enabled these fraud schemes to flourish.

    “We are issuing a warning against those individuals who patronize this kind of scam. Our airport front liners are highly trained to identify counterfeits. To avoid hassles and serious legal trouble, we are advising the public to buy their (own) tickets from PAL ticket offices and accredited travel agents only. The safety of the passengers will always be our topmost priority. We cannot let syndicates proliferate at the expense of our passengers,” PAL Express President Bonifacio U. Sam said.


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    More illegal drugs seize at NAIA

    October 5th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    NAIA Terminal 3. Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs on Thursday has seized more than PhP15.496 million worth of illegal substance at the Central Mail Exchange Center and Federal Express (FedEx) warehouses.

    Port of NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) District Collector Carmelita Talusan and Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña presented the methamphetamine hydrochloride otherwise known as shabu as well as party drugs and marijuana during a press briefing at the NAIA’s Customs house.

    According to Talusan, at least five shipments, which came from Thailand, USA, Rwanda and Pakistan, arrived on April, May and June. The contrabands were hidden in foot and calf massager, religious frame, letter, boxing gloves, baseball jersey, and clothes.

    These were consigned to Melinda Dacallos of Calooocan City, Joseph Manialac of Angeles City, Logy Ramirez of Batac, Ilocos Norte, Edward dela Rosa of Las Piñas City, and Rico Delicano of Cotabato City, who will all be charged for violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and the Comprehensive Drugs Act once they have been identified, according to Lapeña.

    (File photo) Bureau of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña Photo ©

    Lapeña said that 2.21 kilos of shabu, 48 oil ampules and 12 pieces of small plastic container with jelly marmalade that were found to have cannabis or marijuana content, while 69,870 tablets of Valium and Mogadon concealed in five packages arrived at the CMEC and FedEx warehouses in separate dates.

    The shabu is estimated to have a street value of PhP14 million, while Valium and Mogadon street value is more or less PhP1.496 million. The value of marijuana is yet to be determined, BOC officials said.

    The interception of the seized illegal drugs would not be made possible without the profiling skills of Customs examiners,” Lapeña said, adding that all Customs officers have been directed to be vigilant in profiling documents and subject to all x-ray and physical examination of all targeted goods.

    The drugs were later turned over to the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for further investigation and disposition.

    Lapeña, meanwhile, announced that the Bureau of Customs was able to hit the revenue target in September.

    According to Financial Service, the bureau collected a total revenue of PhP52.420 billion, having a revenue surplus registered at 0.9 percent versus the target of P51.956 billion for this month.


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    PAL wins another international award

    September 28th, 2018

    By Benajmin Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    LEGACY carrier Philippine Airlines has earned another distinction by winning a four star Major Regional Airline 2019 rating award during the Airline Passenger Experience Association exposition in Boston, Massachusetts last Monday.

    The new international award was certified by APEX, a globally renowned New York-based non-profit airline customer association.

    PAL said the award, which was given during a special ceremony, is the latest in a string of international victories notched by the Filipino flag carrier.

    In February 2018, PAL received the Four-Star Global Airline certification from London-based Skytrax and a “2nd Most Improved Airline in the World” ranking from the annual Skytrax passenger survey released in June 2018.

    The APEX award, PAL said, is the result of a fully “Certified, Validated, Verified” rating program based on passenger feedback on PAL’s over-all flight experience in five sub-categories: seat comfort, cabin service, food and beverage, entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity.

    Philippine Airlines President and Chief Operating Officer Jaime Bautista ©Photographer: Stefen Chow/Bloomberg News

    PAL President and COO Jaime J. Bautista dedicated the honor to the Filipino people and to PAL’s loyal customers, as he accepted the award on behalf of the flag carrier during the APEX awards ceremony in Boston.

    “We are truly humbled by this latest vote of confidence from our valued customers,” Bautista said, adding that “this new Four-Star APEX award is another victory for the Philippine Airlines team of dedicated professionals, coming after the 4-Star global rating certified by Skytrax earlier this year.”

    The over-all ratings were certified by an external audit firm hired by APEX. The association processed verified itineraries that were validated by geo-location from over 50 million verified airline generated itineraries.

    More than 500,000 flights by passengers from around the world were rated throughput the year ending on 31 July 2018, according to PAL.

    The award will spur the airline to step up its service enhancement program as PAL introduces new aircraft, routes and product innovations, the airline added.

    PAL has begun deploying the sophisticated Airbus A350-900 and Airbus A321neo aircraft on key international routes.

    The A350 now operates the nonstop Manila-London route and will inaugurate Manila-New York nonstop flights by October 29, 2018, marking another milestone (the longest commercial flight ever operated by a Philippine carrier).

    The A321neo now serves Brisbane, Sydney and Port Moresby, and will also fly the much-awaited Manila-Sapporo (Japan) route that opens on October 8th.

    This new accolade comes with a fresh challenge: We should never rest on our latest laurels but must always remain focused on our primary role to provide a pleasant and comfortable travel experience for all our passengers, in the air and on the ground. Thus this latest award as 4-Star major regional airline will inspire us to keep getting better and achieve more until we attain the coveted 5-star status as a prime player in global aviation,” Bautista said.


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    NAIA building attendants lost PhP740,000 to woman recruiter

    September 26th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Photo by

    SOME 200 building attendants of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) lost PHp740,000 to a woman who dupe them by promising high-paying jobs in New Zealand.

    The building attendants or janitress sought the help of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the operator of the country’s main gateway, hoping that they would recover their money which they deposited to Medz Remittance Services.

    According to the building attendants, each of them paid PhP3,700 for passport processing and medical expenses to a certain Mayan Louise, who promised them good jobs in New Zealand.

    Nelly Britania, one of the building attendants, said Louise told them that one of her co-workers at NAIA was able to work in New Zealand without placement fee.

    The words become viral at the airport as many of them (building attendants) tried their luck to seek employment in New Zealand with the help of Louise.

    Because of Louise’ sweet talking, the group even appointed their supervisor as their coordinator go-between with the woman recruiter for follow up inquiries of their applications.

    Britania also said that Louise was only asking for PhP1,200 for passport fee and P2,500 for medical expenses and nothing more.

    Britania added those workers who were interested in the foreign jobs have deposited their money to the Medz Remittance Services, which was located somewhere in the Bicol Region.

    “We were told to wait for the call from Ms. Louise to process our documents, but months past, we never heard anything from her since we deposited our payment,” Britania said in Filipino.

    In response, MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal, gave directives to the Airport Police Department to investigate the case.


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    Immigration officers told to be courteous

    September 24th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Philippine Bureau of Immigration Image ©

    IMMIGRATION officers nationwide, especially at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, were reminded to be courteous and polite in dealing with the public following the failure of some of them to comply the prescribed decorum.

    Bureau of Immigration (BI) deputy commissioner Marc Red Mariñas issued the reminder after noting that some officers are violating the bureau’s policy concerning its dealings with the public.

    Mariñas, a concurrent Port Operations Division (POD) chief, insists that all BI officers manning airports’ immigration booths nationwide, including the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), to observe proper decorum when conducting primary inspection of passengers.

    He said officers should always exercise patience and maximum tolerance as well as the “highest degree of restraint” towards passengers who manifest simple misbehavior that do not pose danger to public safety.

    “Any immigration officer who is a subject of complaint for being rude shall be issued a notice to explain, and could face disciplinary action for violating the code of conduct for BI employees,” Mariñas warned.

    This developed after BI Commissioner Jaime Morente instructed Mariñas to take corrective action following reports that some NAIA immigration officers were impolite during their inspection of both arriving and departing passengers.

    Morente pointed out that the existing directives on proper conduct must be strictly observed and implemented.

    The BI, at the same time, warned that foreigners who are too rude and unruly during inspection, which is tantamount to disrespect to immigration officers, will be subjected to deportation and blacklisting.

    Last month, one of the country’s chess grandmaster was allegedly maltreated by a BI officer while he was reportedly engrossed playing a cellular phone game.

    Chess grandmaster Rogelio “Joey” Antonio got the treatment of his life from an on duty BI officer identified only as Perez at the NAIA terminal 3 after he mistakenly interrupted his game.

    The Malaysia-bound Antonio was only asking the officer where he could find the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) refund booth.

    (Read More:


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    Customs to fast track foreign aid clearance

    September 20th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport will prioritize the facilitation of all incoming international aid for victims of super typhoon Ompong.

    Port of NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan said the customs will fast track clearances for foreign relief goods like sleeping mats, blankets, hygiene and shelter kits and sort of packed noodles, except medicines which needs clearance from the Bureau of Food and Drugs.

    Reports said Australia is giving AUD$800,000 or about PhP31 million in humanitarian assistance for the victims of Typhoon Ompong.

    Typhoon Ompong smashed through Northern Luzon on Saturday and left a trace of destruction.

    (Read More:

    Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme on Sunday said that it is transporting 20,000 bags of rice for families affected by “Ompong,” the strongest storm to hit in 2018.

    The sacks will be transported from the National Food Authority in Valenzuela to the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Resource Operations Center.

    Once all of them arrived at the Port of NAIA, Talusan said, they will assist in giving clearances for the immediate release of the goods.


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    NAIA new rapid exit taxiways launched

    September 11th, 2018

    By Benjamin Lim Vergara

    2nd exit taxiway to help decongest NAIA runway. Photo by

    EXECUTIVE Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade on Monday led the inauguration and commissioning of the two new Rapid Exit Taxiways at Runway 06/24 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport which cost PhP309 million to build.

    According to Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal, the main purpose of the rapid taxiways is to reduce runway occupancy time of arriving large aircraft allowing succeeding aircraft operation at the runway in shorter time minimizing air traffic congestion and flight delays as well as to shorten aircraft spacing requirements for air traffic control.

    “The construction of the East and West Rapid Exit Taxiways (which started on June 15, 2018) were carried out simultaneously and was undertaken with NAIA remaining operational and causing no interruption or danger to airport operations,” Monreal added.

    Monreal added that the country’s main gateway has now four high speed exits that commercial airlines can use.

    “It shall provide quicker exit for aircraft going to the taxiway and pave the way for quicker release of flights taking off.”

    Aside from Medialdea and Tugade, the other invited guest who graced the occasion were DOTr Undersecretary Manuel Antonio Tamayo and Civil Aviation Authority director general Jim Sydiongco.

    Meanwhile, the MIAA said the project entailed design parameters based on the Aerodrome Design Manual of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

    The thickness for the pavement structures of the new exit taxiways was designed based on the requirements for the characteristics of large new aircraft.

    MIAA said the new rapid taxiways were designed with concrete pavement and asphalt shoulder and its design life is twenty years.


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    PAL enhances service offerings

    September 9th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    A PAL plane ©

    FOUR-star national carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has enhanced service offerings to bring comfort and convenience to senior citizens.

    According to PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna, PAL will unveil a package of products and services, some existing and some new, geared towards ensuring that its senior citizen passengers will have a comfortable and stress-free travel experience.

    Moreover, Villaluna said the campaign highlighting the service offerings will be launched on September 9, Grandparents’ Day.

    Some of the special privilege for senior citizens are:

    – Twenty percent discount and VAT exemption for domestic flights

    – Online booking and check in

    – Special meals, including pre-cut meals

    – Curbside drop off and pick up points

    – Priority check-in and immigration lanes

    – Courtesy waiting areas and seats

    -Special wheelchair assistance from departure to arrival

    – Priority boarding

    – Wheelchair-friendly airport terminal transfer buses

    – Courtesy area for baggage retrieval

    “PAL values all our passengers, especially those who need special assistance, our senior citizens and PWDs. Their needs are our priority. We want to make their travel experience comfortable and delightful,” PAL Chief Customer Experience Officer Jessica Abaya said.

    She added that “we continually stress to our frontliners the importance of bringing to life PAL’s Service Culture of “Buong Pusong Alaga, Walang Katulad na Pag-Aruga.

    Abaya said its senior citizen-passengers can now avail of special meals to suit their dietary requirements with the option for soft-diet or pre-cut meals. However, she advised passengers to declare their meal requirements and other requests for assistance during booking/reservation or at least 48 hours before travel.

    Senior citizens can now avail of 20 percent discount for ticket purchases of domestic flights in line with the Senior Citizen Law.

    Including the highlights on Grandparents’ Day, PAL partners with Bo’s Coffee in NAIA Terminal 1 and Mactan-Cebu to provide senior citizens free chocolate chip cookie for every coffee bought.

    “As the country’ 4-Star national carrier, we provide our travelers a heartwarming experience to remember. We bring comfort and convenience to those who need them most,” Abaya stressed.


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    Uncoordinated flights at NAIA is safe – CAAP

    September 7th, 2018

    Marlene Singson, aerodrome division chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). INQUIRER.NET PHOTO/CATHY MIRANDA

    THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines told the House of Representatives that the uncoordinated flights of airlines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport posed no danger in terms of air safety.

    CAAP Aerodrome Division Chief Marlene Singson made this claim during the recent House panel probe on Xiamen Air crash landing incident that paralyzed the airport and airline operations. She said there would be no breach in air safety despite certain incoming flights which are not in the priority list or do not have proper flight schedules.

    (Read More:

    Furthermore, Singson explained that some of these uncoordinated flights asking to land to Manila airport that were given permission might be flying low on fuel.

    “They are already here, and we cannot refuse their requests,” Singson said, adding that some of these aircraft are flying for more than four hours in Manila airspace, “so we give them permission to land.”

    However, Singson pointed out that they have instructed airlines planning for recovery flights and whose aircraft are still in the port of origin to avoid or not to proceed NAIA.

    There are 40 commercial fights and two events for general aviation for (42) landing and (42) takeoff an hour at NAIA. But sometimes it exceeded the takeoff and landing slot because of some uncoordinated flights.

    Singson said airlines that have proper flight schedules have been given air traffic rights – entry and exit clearance within 72-hour validity.

    About 78 uncoordinated flights were recorded to have landed to Manila without even getting permission from Philippine aviation authorities during Xiamen Air incident.

    Meanwhile, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal said local and international airlines who made uncoordinated flights will be penalized. He noted that they are after the 37 out of 78 local and foreign airlines that created congestion at the NAIA right after the Xiamen Air mishap.

    “If the plane carrying 200 passengers, we will fine the airlines PhP5,000 for each passenger, and it depends on how big the aircraft,” Monreal said, adding the bigger the aircraft, the more passengers it will carry.

    He pointed out that these coordinated flights were the ones who made the airport/runway congested. Ramp controllers at the NAIA terminal 1 have a hard time relocating the aircraft from different airlines.

    Some of these planes stayed at the remote parking bay as well as the taxiway of the runway, Monreal added.

    Some of the airlines who made uncoordinated flights are: Asiana Airlines with 1 arrival and 1 departure; China Eastern, 1 arrival; China Southern, 2 arrivals; Etihad Airlines, 2 arrivals; Eva Air, 1; Gulf Air, 1; Japan Airlines, 2; Jeju Airlines, 2; Korean Airlines, 1, Kuwait Airways, 1; Malaysia Airlines, 2; Qantas Airlines, 1; Air Brunei, 1; Xiamen Air, 4, Philippine Airlines, 3, Hong Kong Airlines, 2; Air China, 2; Oman Air, 1; Qatar Airways, 1; Thai Airways, 1.


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    Bomb joke cause seven hour flight delay on Cotabato bound plane

    August 30th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Members of the Aviation Security Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) inspect the luggage from flight PR2959 at the tarmac of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Thursday, after one of its passengers made a bomb joke, prompting aviation authorities to ground the plane. The passengers were transferred to another plane to ensure their safety. Photo by Benjie Lim Vergara.

    A BAD joke from an Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao employee caused a seven hour delay on a Cotabato bound Philippine airlines flight, airport authorities said on Thursday.

    Saidona Singgon’s alleged bomb joke caused PAL Flight PR2959 to be delayed as all of its passengers were told to disembark. Their luggage were also offloaded and rigorously inspected by the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group.

    Singgon, who claimed to be an Airport Manager 3 of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), was immediately arrested after the plane parked at the airport’s remote area.

    The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said PR2959 has 139 passengers and four crew. It was supposed to depart at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at 7:30 a.m. but had to return to the terminal because its air-conditioning bogged down.

    The MIAA said that shortly thereafter, the airport’s command center has received a call from PAL Station at the NAIA Terminal 2 informing them that a passenger, later identified as Singgon, cracked a bomb joke. The joke prompted the police to conduct a thorough inspection of all the luggage brought on board.

    Meanwhile, CAAP spokesman Eric Apolonio denied that Singgon is an employee of the CAAP.

    The CAAP and DOTr (Department of Transportation) deny any connection with the passenger who claimed that he is a DOTr-CAAP employee. Upon verification, Mr. Singgon is identified to be an employee of the autonomous DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communication) under ARMM,” the CAAP statement said.

    Under the law, the consequences for a bomb joke include a fine of not more than PhP40,000 or jail term of not more than five years, or both, depending on the decision of the courts if a case is filed.

    PAL Spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the airline has apologized for the inconvenience to the rest of the passengers, who had to disembark so that authorities could inspect the aircraft thoroughly. These incidents are taken very seriously, as the security and safety of the passengers is the topmost concern of the airline and the authorities.

    PAL takes this opportunity to remind all passengers to refrain from making any jokes about bombs and security threats. The authorities are duty-bound to take appropriate action to safeguard the passengers and all flights. There is no compromise when it comes to ensuring the security of Philippine aviation and all the people who entrust the airlines with their safety and well-being,” a PAL statement said.

    Villaluna said PAL management will file a case against the passenger.

    MIAA Assistant General for Operation Octavio Lina said PR2959 was allowed to takeoff at 2:49 p.m. towards its destination after it was cleared from any explosive.


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    NAIA needs two parallel runways – MIAA

    August 28th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    MIAA GM Ed Monreal Photo ©

    MANILA International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport needs to have two parallel runways so as not to repeat the recent flight disruptions suffered by the country’s premier airport when a Boeing B737-800 of Xiamen Airlines crash landed and blocked the airport’s main runway.

    “The best basic solution is to construct an airport with at least two parallel runways. Pero dapat malayo ang agwat nitong dalawang runway (but there must be minimum distance or there would be enough space between the two parallel runways), we have to consider the safety. If there’s an accident like this one affecting the main runway, there will be another or alternate (similar) runway we can use,” Monreal, during a recent press conference, told reporters after being asked about the improvements that could be made at the airport.

    The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in 2014 has pushed for the construction of a parallel runway at the NAIA in a bid to ease congestion at the airport.

    Former CAAP deputy director general Capt. John Andrews said the construction of the parallel runway at NAIA could increase the airport’s capacity from 40 to about 60 aircraft movements per hour, and would be constructed south of the existing runway 08/24 with the 400-hectare NAIA complex.

    NAIA was built in 1981 with two intersecting runways – the primary runway 06/24 and secondary runway 13/31. To limit aircraft movements at 40 slot per hour, the CAAP transferred the general aviation flights to the Sangley Airport in Cavite.

    However, the plan of NAIA runway improvements did not push through.

    Several flights including PAL, Cebu Pacific and other airlines have been canceled, diverted and delayed after the Xiamen Airlines plane got plane stuck on the mud after it swerved off the runway upon landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on the night of August 16.

    “The week-end closure of the Philippine capital’s main airport due to a stalled Xiamen Airlines jet was an ‘eye-opener’ for authorities to improve protocols,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a television interview on Wednesday.

    (Read More:

    Romulo-Puyat said the country is “on track” to meet its tourist arrival targets due to the recent upgrade of air terminals, including the New Mactan-Cebu Airport. The Philippines is aiming for 7.4 million visitors this year and 12 million in 2022.

    “We need to improve the procedures and protocols and processes. This is actually an eye-opener,” Romulo said, adding she was “quite surprised” that tourist arrivals were increasing despite the six-month closure of Boracay.

    “We didn’t want this to happen, but it happened. We are supporting (Transportation) Secretary (Arthur) Tugade so this does not happen again,” she said about the airport accident.

    DOTr Secretary Tugade, meanwhile, agreed with Romulo-Puyat noting that the accident is also a reminder for the authorities to revisit the Air Passengers Bill of Rights, review the intervention protocols between the airlines and the airport authorities, recast our equipment inventory and enhance the training modules we do at the airport in cases of emergencies.”

    Tugade added that he is aggressively pushing for the implementation of DOTr aviation road map, which can be summarized into the following:

    1. Improve the facilities and structures of existing gateways, such as in NAIA terminals 1, 2, 3, and 4;

    2. Construct/establish other primary gateways (e.g. Bulaan and Sangley), which is now being prioritized;

    3. Develop/improve/construct various regional/provincial airports (e.g. have all commercial airports night-rated, new airports have been given a face lift such as Puerto Princesa, Cebu, Tuguegarao, San Vicente, etc.; construction of new airports such as in Panglao and Bicol are ongoing, while construction of Bukidnon airport shall start before the end of this year); and,

    4. Establish air traffic control and management systems (We have already completed the CNS/ATM facility, which added 10 more air traffic radars from the existing 3 radars we had when we assumed office).


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    BoC turned over some PhP37 million worth of seized illegal drugs to PDEA

    August 26th, 2018

    By Benjie Lim Vergara

    Image ©

    THE Bureau of Customs recently has turned over to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency some PhP37.3 million worth of illegal drugs it earlier seized from the bonded warehouses of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

    The BoC haul consisted of 5,239 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu which were concealed in various items like a baby carrier, camera, finance magazines and bar tools. The contraband were interdicted last May, June, and July respectively.

    Aside from shabu, 1,000 pieces of party drugs known as Ecstacy, which was concealed in wooden toys, were seized on July 20, according to Customs District Collector Carmelita Talusan.

    The seizures, Talusan said, were due to consistent “reform initiatives and his five-point program of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña.” She added that some of the seized shabu was intended to be exported to New Zealand. The shabu mostly came from the United States while the Ecstacy came from Germany.

    Talusan also noted that a thorough joint knowledge of x-ray scanners and frontliners also led to effective apprehensions.

    “We were able to apprehend drugs,” because of these.

    Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena (center) and Port of NAIA Collector Carmelita Talusan turn over the drugs worth P37.3 million to PDEA-NCR director Joel B. Plaza. Photo by Benjie L. Vergara

    Meanwhile, Lapeña said the bureau continues the anti-drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte and will continue to ensue vigilance in protecting the borders.

    The Customs executive said the continuing drugs apprehension meant that “we are winning the war against drugs.”


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