A stressed-out airport security screener collapsed while on duty at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 while another succumbed to a heart attack over the weekend.
Celedonia Rentegrado of the Office of Transport Security (OTS) was reportedly heavily affected by the alleged bullet-planting or “tanim-bala” extortion scheme that implicated some of her colleagues.
Tbe 56-year-old was among the OTS staffers who attended last week’s ‘Unity Mass” at the airport where security screeners wore pink armbands to express their deep hurt over accusations that they are victimizing travelers.
A CNN Philippines report said Rentegrado tearfully recounted how people would talk about the scam upon seeing her OTS uniform while she was on her way home.
According to Nenette Ramos, an OTS supervisor, Rentegrado failed to report for work the day after the Mass. They later learned from her son that she was rushed to a hospital after complaining of severe chest pain.
“’My mother was always thinking about the turn of events. Of course, she was disturbed because she’s working there. My mother was a diligent worker, She loved her job,” a grieving Mac Rentegrado told GMA News in Filipino.
He said his mother told him of instances where she was mocked by passengers not to plant a bullet inside their luggage.
“They should not have acted that way. They should not have judged my mother,” Mac added.
Meanwhile, OTS security screener Johnson Ojano, 24, was brought to the San Juan de dios Hospital on Wednesday after he collapsed while on duty at NAIA Terminal 2.
Reports said Ojano has been arguing with an unidentified passenger who was blaming them for planting bullets on passengers’ belongings.
Another OTS worker, identified as Daven Luigi Saylo, was also rushed to a hospital after he reportedly collapsed in his house while reading updates on bullet-planting incidents in his social media account on Wednesday.
The OTS has recorded an increase in sick leaves filed by their personnel since the extortion scheme hit the headlines. A GMA News report said there are 72 sick leaves filed between October and November compared to just 50 in the same period last year.
According to OTS spokesman Miguel Oraa, their personnel were losing interest in work because of the heat they were receiving from passengers.
“Our security risk will go up because the people who are doing the job are afraid to do their job,” he said.
AIRPORT and law enforcement agency officials pointed fingers at each other on Thursday when the Senate committee on public services tried to find out who among them should have jurisdiction over the close circuit television (CCTV) camera recordings inside NAIA.
During the hearing MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and OTS administrator Roland Recomono were grilled over who has jurisdiction over the security cameras and X-ray shots being requested earlier by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which was investigating the complaint of 20-year-old American missionary Lane Michael White, one of those who was detained and charged with illegal possession of ammunition after airport security reportedly found a .22 caliber bullet in his bag.
During the hearing White’s stepmother Eloisa Zoleta, told senators that their complaint has not moved because the OTS failed to hand over copies of the images to the NBI.
Senator Teofisto Guingona 3rd asked Recomono what is stopping them from turning over the copies of the CCTV footage and X-ray shots to the NBI.
Recomono, however, said the particular footage the NBI is requesting is not within the jurisdiction of the OTS.
“It [CCTV footage] is with the airport,” Recomono responded referring to the MIAA.
Guingona then turned to Honrado and asked if the CCTV footage of the incident involving White is with his office.
“I believe that the footage of the CCTV is with the OTS because it was shown to us during the visit of the [senator],” Honrado replied.
Guingona then went back to Recomono and asked him who really has jurisdiction over the footage, but the OTS official instead admitted that he is not aware of the NBI request.
“I would like to clarify, as far as that particular request of CCTV footage… I’m not aware of the request,” he told Guingona, who expressed dismay over what he described as a clear case of finger- pointing.
Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. tried to get a straight answer from Honrado on who really has jurisdiction over the airport CCTV footage and the MIAA general manager finally admitted that it is his office who has the footage.
“We are the one operating the CCTV… We have the original footage,” Honrado admitted.
When asked by Marcos why he did not provide the copy to the NBI, the MIAA general manager replied, “We are not the one who was asked to provide [the footage]. It is the OTS.
He said the OTS has the copy but they did not give NBI the copy because there was no request coming for the agency.
The footage Marcos was inquiring about was the CCTV recording at the time airport security reportedly found a bullet inside the bag of White.
White narrated to the members of the Senate panel the alleged bullet-planting incident and the attempt of a police officer named Rolando Clarin to extort money from him in exchange for his freedom.
According to White the police officer told him to pay P30,000 or he will be jailed because of the bullet found in his bag.
Zoleta also told senators that a Philippine National Police officer named Romy Navarro warned her that her stepson will end up in jail because they would pursue the charges.
She said Navarro insisted that she should help her stepson because his life will be ruined once charges are filed against him.
But Zoleta refused to give in to the demands of the airport personnel.
Marcos during the hearing also gave Gloria Ortinez, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from Ilocos Norte, a chance to narrate her ordeal.
Ortinez was arrested at NAIA Terminal 2 when a bullet, contained in a red pouch, was found inside her handcarried bag.
She insisted that the bullet was not hers because there was no bullet in her bag when she went through security procedure at the Laoag International Airport.
According to her, she was forced to sign a document and admit that the bullet was hers because she was told that she will be handcuffed and detained if she refused.
Zoleta also told the senators that she was not even offered food or even water while she is being held by airport security.
Marcos also asked Honrado when he first heard of Ortinez case and the MIAA general manager admitted that he had no idea.