Authorities in the Philippines have sacked five airport security personnel who were caught on a viral video allegedly engaging in extortion of money from a foreigner.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) on Monday (27 February) has relieved from duty the five individuals who allegedly took around ¥20,000 (S$200) from a Thai tourist at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on 22 February.
The victim, a Thailand national, was identified as Piyawat Gunlayaprasit. A witness, another Thai tourist, posted videos of the incident on Facebook, which quickly went viral, showing the security screeners inserting money into their pockets, and later returning the money to the passenger after being confronted.
In a statement, the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) said that the agency will address the issue accordingly by filing criminal complaints against the security personnel. It also emphasised that those involved will not only be dismissed from the service but will also be put behind bars for their criminal acts. It vowed to find other strategies to solve the problem.
A crime of necessity?
Meanwhile, a Philippine lawmaker urged the OTS to look into the salary of its security officers, saying it could be the prime motive why these people are committing such crimes.
“There’s no excuse for doing illegal acts. But in reality, if you’re in need, one is more likely to commit crimes like this,” said Senator Grace Poe, Senate Public Services Committee chairperson.
This incident is not the first involving security personnel at the Philippine airport. Since July 2022, 14 OTS personnel have been dismissed while three others were suspended. Six cases, ranging from violation of the agency's "no tipping policy," improper disposal of intercepted prohibited items, extortion, rude behavior, and the use of mobile phones while on duty, remained under investigation.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and lifestyle writer who focuses on politics, the economy, and pop culture. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.
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