Call me a paranoid traveller. It’s not just plane claustrophobia that gets to me when I fly. I also get to be very observant of fellow passengers. And I try hard to notice my surroundings closely, yes.:D
It helped that me and my officemates flew six times to three Philippine cities this month, which is quite a record for someone like me who prefers land trips. Okay, we flew Cebu Pacific and the time helped me get acquainted with operations at a few of the country’s airports, including the Cebu Pacific terminal in NAIA 3.
My rating: HG. Hoy Gising! (hey, wake up!)
The first time I was at NAIA 3 was before an early 4:55 a.m. flight to Bacolod. I couldn’t believe it. The two personnel who were supposed to man the x-ray machines of incoming luggages weren’t doing their work at all! Man on the right was reading a tabloid while the lady on the left end was talking to her fellow employee about what to have for breakfast. Both of them weren’t looking at their machines while the bags passed through.
Sure, there were uniformed security personnel as soon as we entered the terminal, but what can human eyes do compared to the work of metal detectors and x-ray machines?
This incident got me into a conversation with a friend who observed the same thing. He said he even went to the airport one night to buy a plane ticket (this time at the Centennial Terminal) and he was able to pass through an Off Limits area without anyone reprimanding him. I didn’t observe the same thing, but he noted that security is even more lax at the Mactan International Airport in Cebu where personnel would let you pass without checking you. How true?
I shudder to think of the repercussions that lax enforcement of security in Philippine airports can bring. We can’t be merely reactive when terrible incidents such as terrorist bomb attacks happen, or pray for a repeat of the 2003 Davao international airport blast where 20 people were killed.The fact that it happened in Davao doesn’t mean it will not happen in Manila…so why are these security personnel taking their work for granted?
In fairness, when we passed through the Davao International Airport during this last trip, the employees looked every inch efficient and competent. The presence of policemen also made me feel safe with this airport. Perhaps because they have learned their lessons since the 2003 incident . And also because we think this is how work in crucial places like airports should be done!