Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles wants background checks for ground and flight personnel of airline companies to be made mandatory as part of the country’s security and counterterrorism measures.
Nograles said he learned after making casual inquiries that ground personnel are hired by airline firms without conducting any background screening or security profiling on them although airports are considered as critical facilities and key national security assets.
"From what I've learned, there is really no profiling for airline crews and personnel. Airline companies rely on submitted data individually or as provided by their agencies. Even more concerning is the fact that many of these people were hired through manpower pooling companies which are completely unconcerned about the background of the people they hire. Basta may NBI clearance ka ayos na sa kanila," Nograles said.
Nograles is the vice president for internal affairs of the National Unity Party (NUP) and chairperson of the House Committee on Labor and Employment.
"The apparent lack of character check for people who go in and out of the airports and board commercial planes on a daily basis is a serious security flaw which could be exploited, particularly by terrorists," Nograles added.
He expressed concern over the possibility that a "sleeper agent" of a terrorist organization could easily infiltrate the country's airports and launch deadly bombing attacks just like what happened recently in Thailand.
Nograles cited the case of one of Cebu Pacific’s in-flight service crew who was suspected of stealing money from the airline’s Chinese passengers.
The lawmaker said the incident was not only an embarrassment for Cebu Pacific, but also showed the lack of security protocols in screening airline employees.
This lack of proper security profiling for people involved in airport operations could be used as basis by other countries such as the United States and the European Union to pull down the country's aviation rating, which was only upgraded to category 1 last year, he noted.
"The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) should seriously look into this issue and update their security protocol covering all airlines and airport personnel, including those that are sourced from manpower pooling agencies," said Nograles.