A FEMALE screening officer of the Office Transportation Security (OTS) assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 was caught on closed-circuit television (CCTV) trying to put some folded bills amounting to $300 into her mouth in an apparent attempt to hide what she had allegedly filched from the wallet of a departing Chinese passenger.
The CCTV footage was part of an official report released by airport authorities regarding the alleged theft that happened at one of the departure area’s final checkpoints. The x-ray operator at the checkpoint, as well as their supervisor, could also be in hot water, according to a report published on Manila Bulletin.
The official report also included a chronology of events that was partly based on the CCTV video footages, starting at 8:18 p.m. on Sept. 8 when the departing passenger – a certain Mr. Cai – could be seen placing his shoulder bag on a tray for inspection.
Cai could be seen passing through the Advanced Imaging Technology Machine (AITM), while a female security screening officer (SSO) brought the tray containing the passenger’s bag to a table for a manual search.
When the SSO finished inspecting Cai’s bag, the report said she “suspiciously turned away while apparently holding something in her left hand with her fist tightly-closed”.
“She then swiftly placed something on her left torso/waist area, and went back to the inspection table,” the report added.
It was at this point that Cai sensed that someone had tampered with his bag – the wallet inside was open and several bills were missing.
This prompted Cai to confront the female SSO, her supervisor, a passenger service agent, a Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel, and a member of the Airport Police Department about the missing bills from his wallet which amounted to $300.
According to the report, an ocular inspection was then conducted at the departure final checkpoint.
“A follow-up was made at around 3 a.m. for a thorough review of another CCTV footage where the events were captured at the DFSCP beginning at 8:39 p.m.” the report added.
Based on the CCTV footage, the x-ray operator was seen handing over a bottle of water to the female SSO, who was described to be “edgy and restless”.
After accepting the bottle of water, the SSO turned her back on the group, and was “clearly seen deliberately swallowing the dollar bills, folded into one small piece”. She even ignored a passing female passenger who was asking her something.
But little did the SSO know that she was actually facing another CCTV when she turned her back on the group.
The report added: “She was seen to be having a hard time swallowing the bills despite drinking the bottled water earlier given to her.”
The report likewise noted that the SSO’s supervisor then approached her, and “was seemingly communicating with her as the latter was obviously almost choking in her effort to swallow the dollar bills while using her hanky to cover her mouth.”
The supervisor, according to the report, was “apparently ensuring that the bills are dispatched to preclude any evidence”.
The report said its findings showed that “the CCTV footage clearly shows that the (suspect) SSO, with intent to gain, took the USD300 of Mr. Cai during her inspection process and was clearly in the possession of the stolen money as she deliberately swallowed the paper bills to avoid getting caught.”
“In addition, supervisor…and x-ray operator… who gave the water bottle appeared to be in connivance relative to the execution and subsequent evasion on the consequence of herein illegal act of SSO,” it added.
However, according to the report, Cai could no longer be contacted if he planned to pursue any criminal complaint against the suspects.
Airport authorities proceeded to the Boarding Gate 16 at Terminal 1 and coordinated with an airline representative to inquire with the complainant regarding the filing of a criminal case against the subject SSO but Mr. Cai expressed unwillingness, the report added.
“Evidently, Cai did not return to Manila earlier after the incident but never made any contact with authorities regarding his complaint,” the report said.