Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Manila airport on heightened alert again

MANILA, Philippines—The authorities have placed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on heightened alert in the wake of Tuesday’s deadly bus bombing on Edsa, deploying twice the usual number of security guards and increasing patrols by bomb-sniffing dogs.

The heightened alert came a day after airport officials announced a similar heightened state of alert at the airport following a terrorist attack on an airport in Moscow.

Vicente Guerzon Jr., the Manila International Airport Authority’s assistant general manager for security and emergency services, said the 600 security guards has been doubled, and so has the 60 members of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group assigned at the airport complex.

He said airport police were also conducting more patrols and intensifying intelligence activities.

“We're gathering and sharing intelligence with other agencies to update our security assessment,” he said in an interview.

So far, he said there have been no intelligence reports indicating the NAIA might be the target of a terrorist attack.

“We're also regularly having K-9 patrols at the three terminals,” he added. Security personnel also routinely check incoming passenger buses and taxis for any suspicious packages, Guerzon said.

He said the authorities have also begun the process of acquiring full-body X-ray scanners by next year.

Guerzon said his office had submitted the terms of reference for the “high-value” acquisition to the bids and awards committee.

He said they would also hold talks with the Commission on Human Rights to discuss the parameters of the use of the full-body scanners, noting that the equipment has drawn resistance in places like the United States.

The raised alert level at NAIA also came in the aftermath of the bombing at a Moscow airport that left more than 30 persons dead and several dozen others injured.

MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado earlier said he was closely monitoring the situation in Russia and watching out for information that might point to the NAIA terminals as a possible target.


NEHA JAIN                                                                                                                

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