• Passenger accosted for ‘bomb’ joke

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    A male passenger at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was nabbed by airport police on Friday over a “bomb” joke he made while waiting for his flight to Butuan City.

    Bernabe Cuello Jr., 56, of San Nicolas town in Laguna province, learned that the joke was on him when alert security guards at the aerobridge tube pounced on him after blurting: “Baka wala ng tao sa baba, baka may naglagay ng bomba sa gulong [Maybe nobody’s downstairs, maybe someone placed a bomb on the tire].”

    It was learned that Cuello was about to board Airbus A320 of PAL Express flight 2P-967 with 172 passengers, including an infant, when he cracked the joke.

    When the flight crewmembers had been informed, they immediately told the pilots about the incident.

    Airport Terminal 3 Manager Octavio Lina said said Cuello, who claimed to be a Barangay chairman in San Pablo, was immediately detained at the Philippine National Police-First Police Center for Aviation Security (PCAS) for investigation and as part of the airport’s standard operations procedure.

    PCAS Maj. Florencio Soriano said that PNP aviation bomb disposal unit rigidly checked the ten tires of the plane for any explosives but the results were negative.

    According to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), prohibition against false declarations such as bomb jokes made at an airport or aboard an aircraft could jeopardize security, or can unnecessarily divert security and delay flights.

    Passengers have been warned that bomb jokes are strictly not allowed inside the airport’s premises and it is unlawful to do it while aboard a plane. Notices are posted in NAIA terminals warning that bomb jokes are to be taken and dealt with seriously.

    Cuello, according to police, will be facing charges of violation of Presidential Decree 1727, a law that penalizes making a false bomb threat. Punishment includes imprisonment for not more than five years and a fine of not more than of P40,000 if found guilty.

    Benjie Vergara

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