The vigilance of Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Security Screening Officers (SSOs) Rafael Rey Pimentel, x-ray operator, and John Carlo Ompad, baggage inspector, led to the discovery of an unlicensed caliber .45 firearm, and one detached magazine loaded with seven (7) pieces of suspected live ammunition at the airport’s Initial Security Screening Checkpoint Domestic Terminal 1. The passenger, who said that he inadvertently left the firearm in his bag, was identified to be a certain Dexter Rivera, who was bound for Manila on Friday, August 27, 2021 via Philippine Airlines Flight Number PR1846.
SSO Pimentel was conducting the regular security screening of baggage of airport passengers, when a suspicious item resembling a firearm appeared on the x-ray monitor. As a matter of procedure, they requested their Team Leader, Supervisor and the law enforcement officer on duty from the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Unit-7 to witness the baggage inspection. Upon discovery that it was indeed a firearm, airport authorities requested for the identification and documents authorizing Rivera to carry and transport said firearm.
Rivera, on the other hand, failed to present appropriate licenses and permit to carry the same, prompting the PNP AVSEU-7 to arrest him for violating Republic Act 10591, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition.
Office for Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator Undersecretary Raul Del Rosario lauded the SSOs behind the accomplishment, noting that the reminders given by Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to make security as a commitment, always reminded him of his commitment to bring solution to the problems that greeted him upon his assumption in August of 2019. “Karamihan dito ay kakulangan sa security screening equipment. Magmula po noong 2019, bumili tayo ng karagdagang security screening equipment upang mapalitan ‘yung mga sira-sirang x-ray machine na nakaka-dagdag sa queuing at nakakabawas sa efficiency ng mga tao. Ngayon, sa tulong ng mga dual view x-ray machines na binili natin, mas napadali ang pag-detect ng mga prohibited items, lumuwag ang pila sa terminal, at nabawasan yung pangangailangan ng manual inspection lalo na sa mga airports natin sa probinsya.” Usec. Del Rosario said.
He added, “yung mga security screening technologies na ito, sinabayan natin ng karagdagang tao, at matinding training and skills development. Mayroon tayong basic aviation security trainings na ginawa sa mga tao natin para ma-equip sila with proper knowledge kung ano yung mag dapat ma-detect at ma-intercept nilang mga bawal. Yearly, meron din tayong kino-conduct na series of recurrent trainings to keep them up to date sa mga threats and trends. Across the board po yan, pati sa maritime, land at rail.”
Rivera is now in the custody of the PNP, and is facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.