Duterte says no more opening of bags in airports

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 6) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday bags of travelers will no longer be opened during airport screening and "human contact" would be minimized.

"Alam mo kung merong improvement diyan sa public service sa airports, one is that no more inspection sa bagahe papasok," he said in a speech at the celebration of  the 85th anniversary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

[Translation: You know if there is an improvement in public service in the airport, one is that there will be no more inspection for bags that come in.]

The President then made a joke about how bringing in contraband like dynamite, bullets, and marijuana would be okay, but that the police and the members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) would be waiting for them outside the airport.

"Gusto ko lang na [I just prefer] no more opening of the bags," Duterte explained.

He also said that there would be no more human contact in airport immigration.

"All you have to do is...you just swipe your passport and you can go out. No more questions in immigation. At yung pagbalik palabas, I am requiring them altogether to adopt the same system. Paglabas ninyo, swipe lang ninyo. No more human questions," he said.

The President gave no specifics on when and how such protocol would be enforced. Airport and government security officials have yet to comment on what he said.

Duterte said that in his years in public office, he has seen how poor overseas Filipino workers (OFW) would be treated. He recalled one instance where he witnessed an OFW who arrived from Hong Kong with a small TV being charged a fee the worker could not afford.

The President said he nearly got into a fight with the airport personnel over the way the OFW was treated.

"That is why you can see my reaction every time. Ayaw ko kasi ng api-api. Whether rich or poor, I just don't want oppression. Kaya yang oppression, hindi ko kayang tanggapin yan, lalo na in my presence. Ayaw ko. Walang rason, ayaw ko lang," he said.

[Translation: That is why you can see my reaction every time. I don't like people being oppressed. Whether rich or poor, I just don't want oppression. I can't accept that, especially in my presence. I don't like it. No reason, I just don't like it.]

In February, in a bid to resolve "tanim-bala" incidents in the country, labor, transportation, justice, and local government officials signed an agreement to improve airport security screening and form guidelines on the investigation and speedy resolution of the issue.

"Tanim-bala" refers to a scam by unscrupulous airport workers to plant bullets in the bags of passengers during inspection to be able to extort money from them.