To harmonize and organize the functions of all government agencies involved in airport security screening of passengers, baggage, and cargoes in all Philippine airports Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment; Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communication; Secretary Emmanuel Caparas of the Department of Justice; and Secretary Mel Senen S. Sarmiento of the Department of Interior and Local Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will ensure the protection of all departing passengers, especially overseas Filipino workers, from the country’s international airports and which will increase passenger awareness on airport security and on security screening processes.
“The MOU is aimed at resolving the ‘tanim-bala’ cases, especially those involving OFWs. The resolution of these cases are in coordination with the PNP-AVSEGROUP as law enforcer, and the National Prosecution Service, as the prosecution arm of the government. The DOLE’s OWWA and POEA will assist in the facilitation process, especially for departing overseas Filipino workers,” said Baldoz during the MOU signing at the VIP Lounge of Terminal 3 at the NAIA.
The MOU was signed by PCSupt. Francisco E. Balagtas for the PNP Aviation Security Group (PNP Avsegroup); Commo. Roland S. Recomono, Administrator of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS); Maj.Gen. Jose Angel A. Honrado AFP (Ret), General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA); Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano of the National Prosecution Service; Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); and Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Secretaries Baldoz, Joseph Emilio A. Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communication, Mel Senen S. Sarmiento of the Department of Interior and Local Government, and Emmanuel L. Caparas of the Department of Justice acted as witnesses in the MOU signing.
Under the MOU, the POEA shall provide representatives/facilitation personnel in NAIA terminals 24/7 to assist OFWs intercepted with prohibited items in their person/luggage/cargoes; assist OFW resolve the interception, and in some instance, rebook their flights in coordination with airline companies; advice the worker emphasizing on his rights as a person who might be, or eventually be, or is already subject of a Custodial Investigation; request the Public Attorney’s Office for immediate designation of a Public Attorney to provide legal representation to the worker during investigation, inquest proceedings, preliminary investigation and trial, as the case may be, if he/she has not yet contacted a lawyer of his/her choice; and provide, when needed or as may be requested by law enforcement authorities, documents to establish that the person being held in custody is an OFW.
“The POEA shall also require recruitment agencies that deployed the OFW to provide assistance to the worker by contacting and making representation with the employer on the potential delay in the worker’s arrival,” said Baldoz.
The OWWA shall provide immediate assistance to the worker or accompanying family member subject of an investigation, especially on his/her welfare needs during the conduct of investigation, including safekeeping of their personal belongings; interview, where possible, to collect personal information, Overseas Employment Status/Record, and further welfare needs of the OFW; contact, upon request of the OFW, the family, relative or a friend of the worker, including counsel of choice if any; provide accommodation when the worker has been released from police custody and while waiting for his/her rebooked flight or arrangements for return to his/her hometown; provide stress debriefing and psycho-social counselling of the subject worker including accompanying family member, if any, prior to rebooking/redeployment;
Baldoz added that the POEA and OWWA shall also include the prohibited acts defined under R.A. No. 10591 in the Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS); Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS); and other workers education programs, including the issuance of advisories.
The MOU stated that the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), an attached agency of the DOTC, shall provide harmonized coordination and leadership at the airport in cases involving immediate security resolution in security screening check points, being the head of the specific Airport Security Organization (ASO), to prevent undue delay and inconvenience to passengers and their cargoes at the expense of commerce, trade, and tourism; security screening checkpoints (initial and final) for a smooth flow of passenger and cargo (hold/check-in) traffic to avoid queuing; signages and publicly-provided videos to remind airport passengers of prohibited and restricted items to the airport and aircraft.
The OTS, on the other hand, shall undertake aviation security screening on all passengers/cargoes and airport personnel/employees in accordance with the National Civil Aviation Security Program (NCASP) for restricted and prohibited items; refer to PNP-AVSEGROUP all interceptions for prohibited items; ensure the implementation of standard operating procedures in conducting the passenger security screening; and re-inspect the bags in the presence of the AVSEGROUP, MIAA, and POEA or OWWA.
Based on the MOU, the PNP-AVSEGROUP shall respond immediately to referrals by OTS aviation security screeners and determine the formally endorsed anomaly/interception; inform immediately the Labor Assistance Center (LAC) of the POEA and/or the Repatriation and Assistance Division (RAD) of the OWWA, including MIAA, PAO and NPS, of any incident of potential violation of R.A. No. 10591 that involves an OFW; uphold the rights of a person subject of custodial investigation for violation of R.A. No. 10591 and any other laws; provide stationed police officers in the aviation security screening checkpoint for immediate response; ensure that the rights of a person subject of a custodial investigation contained in R.A. No. 7438, or otherwise known as “An Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation as well as the Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers, and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof” are observed, well-explained, and emphasized; and examine carefully the evidence before indorsing the case to the Prosecutor’s Office for the conduct of inquest proceedings.
The NPS shall provide stationed prosecutors on-duty in the NAIA terminals 24/7 to conduct inquest and preliminary investigation of cases and give guidance on the proper interpretation and application of the law through orientation seminars and training programs.
A Technical Working Group (TWG) chaired by the MIAA and composed of representatives from the parties to the MOU shall also be created and convened within 15 days from the signing of the MOU. The TWG shall serve as the coordinating mechanism for the implementation of the activities under the MOU.