MCIAA questioned over P196M x-ray machines that ‘can’t detect’ guns

·3 min read

THE Commission on Audit has asked officials of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) to explain why it acquired mobile x-ray screening systems worth P196.382 million that cannot detect or scan guns and ammunition placed inside vehicles.

State auditors unveiled their findings in their annual audit report on MCIAA’s activities in 2021.

But a MCIAA official told SunStar Cebu Thursday, July 21, 2022, that they had requested COA for a re-inspection as the machines were not at peak condition when they underwent auditing.

State auditors said the MCIAA purchased the machines from Ad Lib International Sales Inc. and these were delivered, inspected and accepted by the airport authority’s property inspectorate team on Jan. 17, 2020.

The equipment was fully paid in the same year, state auditors noted.

But during a series of inspections conducted on May 20, 26 and June 2, 2021 by a representative from COA’s Regional Technical Services Office (RTSO) and attended by personnel of the MCIAA’s Airport Police Division, it was found that the mobile x-ray screening system could not detect guns and ammunition when it was tested on vehicles.

The inspections or tests were made to validate the technical specifications of this delivered screening equipment as stipulated in the contract agreement.

As stated in the report of the COA dated June 17, 2021, “The x-ray machine is running and operational, however it failed to detect contents inside the vehicles such as guns and ammunition. It also failed to scan the inside of an armored vehicle considering that per specification, it is capable of 35mm thick metal sheet (scan) penetration.”

“This being the case, the purchased Mobile X-Ray Screening System cannot serve its intended purpose of detecting illegal armaments that may be used by terrorists’ groups, thus, intended outcome of enhancing the airport’s security posturing may not be attained,” state auditors said.

“From the auditor’s view, this condition is a clear manifestation that there was a lack of rigid inspection of the equipment before accepting it,” they added.

State auditors told MCIAA officials to provide a written explanation on the matter or they could be subjected to a notice of disallowance.

Reply

MCIAA officials submitted a written reply to COA concerning the transaction.

In its reply, MCIAA said the vehicles were acquired by its airport authority as part of its initial measures in response to COA’s earlier audit observations in the previous years.

During their exit conference with state auditors, MCIAA officials disputed that such Mobile Vehicle X-Ray Backscatter could not detect guns and ammunition as indicated in the Regional COA Technical report and that it can detect “big scale contraband of such nature.”

Col. Art dela Rosa, manager of MCIAA’s Emergency and Security Services Department, told SunStar Cebu that the machines were capable of detecting weapons, ammunition and even ingredients used to manufacture explosives as long as they were in bulk.

Dela Rosa said that at the time their machines were inspected by COA, they were not working properly as some of their parts had to be replaced after they were not used for months as operations at the airport were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dela Rosa added that they had already scheduled a re-audit with COA to determine their machines’ effectiveness.

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