The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has installed seven new hand-carried x-ray machines in three terminals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in a bid to strengthen vigilance and prevent the entry of smuggled and contraband goods into the Philippines.
Two brand-new Rapiscan x-ray units have been placed at NAIA Terminal 3; two units were allocated at Terminal 2; and another three units are being set up at Terminal 1, Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña said in a statement. BOC started to install the x-ray machines on June 5.
“These new x-rays will help us detect taxable items inside the passenger luggage such as jewelry, luxury bags and watches, undeclared foreign currency, and more importantly smuggled illegal drugs and other prohibited items,” Lapeña said.
With the latest x-ray machines, passengers are required to submit their carry-on bags to non-intrusive examination by BOC x-ray personnel.
It can be recalled that in April 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte called on BOC and the Bureau of Immigration to stop opening baggage in airports after reports of pilferage.
“We will still observe the standing rule—no opening of bags in the airport. However, baggage marked by the x-ray machine which is suspected to contain contraband items and/or misdeclared items can be physically examined,” the Customs chief clarified.
BOC said incidents of drug trafficking and jewelry smuggling in airports prompted it to implement stricter border security and safety measures.
“If you don’t have anything illegal under your sleeve, then there’s no need to be alarmed by the x-ray inspection,” Lapeña said.
In October 2017, BOC beefed up its anti-smuggling capacity by adding 19 new x-ray units at the three terminals of NAIA.
Since March 2018, BOC-NAIA has conducted 12 apprehensions of illegal drug importations as a result of the strict profiling by customs examiners of suspicious shipments and the subsequent confirmation of contraband goods through x-ray examination and K9 inspection.
Recently, BOC seized 11.5 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, estimated to be worth P74.8 million, at the Port of Clark. The follow-up operation it conducted together with the Customs Anti-Drugs Interdiction Task Force and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency led to the arrest of four suspects who allegedly received the parcels that were decoyed as chairs and griller.