THE Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) started fielding on June 15 a private security agency, whose guards are armed with rifles and shotguns, to augment the National Police’s Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup), many of whose members are gunless.
Miaa General Manager Ed Moreal said Lanting and Advance Security agencies are highly visible in the four Manila International Airport (Mia) passenger terminals to deter potential troublemakers.
“The airport is not under any threat, but the sight of armed security men is good for the passenger’s peace of mind,” he added.
The Mia called in the two security agencies following the attack on Marawi City on May 23 and the attack on Resorts World by Jessie Javier Carlos on June 2, which killed 38 persons, including himself.
Meanwhile, reports said about 200 policemen from the Avsegroup are gunless, because they have not been issued firearms by the National Police.
However, their mere presence at the four terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, augmented by bomb-sniffing dogs, makes the local and foreign travelers feel safe.
Although devoid of guns, the policemen, who asked not to be named, said they put their lives on the line, “to serve and protect the community, particularly local and foreign travelers”.
They added they were in a vulnerable position, unable to defend themselves and the community against armed attacks by individual or criminal groups.
To pretend they are not “helpless”, some of the policemen fill their empty holsters with towels.
“We all know that with the current war on illegal drugs, we put our lives in great danger, but we survived through the year being gunless policemen,” an Avsegroup trooper said.
Presently, the National Police is short on guns and, according to the 2015 Commission on Audit report, out of 147,041 only 124,738 have been issued firearms.
A total of 623 policemen were using donated handguns, while 3,654 have no record of having been issued service firearms.
It was revealed that the budget for the procurement of 12,268 pistols was diverted and used to purchase police patrol jeeps, the Crime Data Processing System and an Automated Fingerprint Identification System by the past administration.