New MCIA security measures in place

PASSENGERS passing through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) are now subjected to stricter security checks through scanners that are not visible to them.

The Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) mounted four portable x-ray and screening machines at the MCIA terminals. The machines scan the passengers’ luggage without them knowing it.

Lawyer Steve Dicdican, MCIAA general manager, announced on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, that the machines are already operational and that they plan to make changes in the security set-up in the coming months.

Before the new scanners were set up, passengers’ luggage went through an x-ray machine at the entrance leading to the check-in counters, and at the final check before the boarding gates. Now, there are screening machines behind the x-ray.

These provide an additional layer of security check to make sure that no contraband will pass through the airport.

Security is tight at the MCIA these days with the influx of passengers coming home to Cebu for the holidays and those going to their hometowns.

Dicdican said they expect the number of passengers to go up from Dec. 20 to 24 when people go home to celebrate Christmas.

The four new machines—one each in Terminal 1 and 2, one at the General Aviation Area and one standby unit—arrived in August yet but Dicdican announced that they are already operational only last Friday.

The machines are small and are not easily visible to the passengers, according to MCIA public information officer Mary Ann Dimabayao.

Dicdican said, now that they have the new machines at the in-line screening area, they plan to remove the x-ray machines after the domestic terminal entrance in the coming months to reduce the waiting time of passengers queueing to enter the check-in area.

He said the changes will address the overcrowding of passengers at the first screening area, causing long queues at the terminal entrance and resulting in passenger inconvenience.

The current set-up for security checks also makes it easy for criminals to go inside the terminal and commit illegal acts since they can easily blend in the crowd of passengers, Dicdican said.

He noted that airports in other countries don’t have x-ray machines at the terminal entrance, doing away with long queues of passengers.

This is the reason there is no initial screening in Terminal 2, he said.

Dicdican assured that when the changes are implemented, the additional screening machines will be enough to thoroughly check the luggage.

“Having an initial check and then giving the bag back to the passengers is not the way to make sure that the bag that goes into the airplane is safe. The right procedure should be that once the passengers’ bags are checked in, nobody should be able to touch the bag. If it will be returned to the passengers, there is a possibility that they will insert something in their bags,” said Dicdican, referring to the checked-in luggage.

In a separate interview, Alice Queblatin, Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists president, welcomed the new security measures, saying it matters a lot to tourists.

She said the inspection is a “necessary inconvenience to create a clean society and to attract tourists.”

“Security first, clean and safe surroundings are top of mind for all tourists in choosing a destination. A conscious effort shown by government in checking and monitoring entry of drugs, a grave international problem that destroys society, will in fact give the Philippines a positive image to many,” Queblatin said. (GCM / CSL / RSR)