Nobody claims ‘credit’
for workers’ quick exit try
THERE is a lot of finger-pointing going on at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) after 70 would-be workers at an oil rig in Dili, East Timor, were allowed to proceed directly to a waiting plane in a remote parking bay instead of undergoing the normal check-in procedure.
The workers were ferried by a bus from Gate 1 of the NAIA to the parking bay where an Air North chartered plane, Flight TL 740, was scheduled to leave at 5 a.m. last Sunday.
The plane, an Embraer jetliner that can accommodate 70 passengers, was chartered from Australia and arrived at the NAIA at 4 a.m. also last Sunday.
The Embraer E-Jets are a series of narrow-body, twin-engine, medium-range, airliners roduced in Brazil.
The NAIA Task Force Against Trafficking of Persons (TFATP) chanced upon two liaison officers at the Terminal 1 departure area who were in possession of travel documents but without the presence of passengers. The two were supposed to facilitate the exit clearances of the would-be overseas Filipino workers.
As the liaison officers were presenting their request for the special facilitation of the passengers in their chartered flight, Emmanuel Rodriguez, the officer-on-duty, immediately alerted Manila International Airport Authority general manager Melvin Matibag.
Matibag, also task force chair, found that six of the workers had deficient travel papers since their skills did not match the requirement in the contract.
The workers also lacked the Overseas Employment Certificate issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
The six workers were not allowed to board the plane, but were told that they would be placed on the next chartered flight once their papers are in order.
"I would not like the workers to arrive at their destination to be discovered that their skills are not equal to what the contract stipulated," Matibag said.
Matibag said that it was improper and illegal to allow workers to pass through the tarmac on the way to their plane instead of going through the normal procedure and subjecting themselves to body check, x-ray examination and the whole rigmarole that would require them to remove their shoes to preclude hidden explosives.