PEP SPECIAL REPORT (Part 2): Airport’s ongoing investigation targets “closure” within the week

Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP.ph) was the seventh media company to interview Connie Bungag, officer in charge of Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) media affairs, yesterday, May 8, 2012.


Hot on the heels of the fistfight involving Mon Tulfo, Raymart Santiago, Claudine Barretto, and the celebrity couple’s friends was the revelation: “Walang CCTV camera.”

This came as a surprise to many, including the politicians.

Raymart even contested, “Hindi ako naniniwala.”

But in a matter-of-fact manner, Connie Bungag of Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) media affairs told Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP.ph) in an exclusive interview how that came to be.

“Terminal 3, as a backgrounder, as you know,” she began, before adding, “Terminal 3 has been entangled in a legal dispute.”

It can be recalled that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called the BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) contract of Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. (PIATCO) “anomalous.”

Bungag continued, “So for the longest time, I think eight years, ’no, it has not been of use, as in closed siya.

“But the equipment was there, the system was there, it’s just that hindi siya napagana simply because we were not…the airport authorities were…prohibited by the court to touch anything at the terminal.

“We were just told to be the custodians of the terminal until the legal case is over.”

It was only last year, she said, that they “obtained clearance from the court to finally start working on the terminal again.”

She added, “It was also the only time that we’re able to check on which facilities pa are supposed to be, actually, reactivated na kasi it’s there na, e…”

The CCTV cameras, “because hindi siya nagamit,” became “obsolete.”

DATA-GATHERING. For this reason, the airport’s police intelligence and investigation department had to rely on eyewitness accounts.

So far, they’re almost done with the data-gathering.

Bungag related, “So far, we have obtained the statements from the six security guards, ah, the ones in white, and the three others from the airport group personnel, plus, I understand they also gave na the statement of the Cebu Pacific staff—whom Ms. Barretto talked to when she arrived from Caticlan.”

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Target “closure” is this week.

The lady whose department is in charge of dealing with the press added, “The investigating team is still looking for other airport workers who might be in the area at that time to give their statement and probably shed light to what actually happened during the incident.”

What’s the investigation arriving at?

Her reply: “Actually, we’re just... trying to gather all the statements from people who could possibly have witnessed what happened.”

“Not to say who started it or who’s really at fault, but what they’re trying to do is gather information.

“So that in the event that either party decides to file legal actions or whatever against each other, we’ll be willing to submit all these statements to them, to these interested parties, in the event the courts asks for it.

“Yun lang naman kami.

“We’re not here to pass judgments at anybody but, kahit kami or the investigating team [is] not there when it happened so this is just to… to actually get the facts and put them all together.”

AIRPORT SECURITY. Another controversy spawned by the incident was the observation that the airport security allegedly failed to pacify the people concerned.

Even the source of PEP claimed, “Nakatayo lang sila…”

Bungag refuted, “As far as our people naman—both the airport police and the security guards naman—are concerned, they did their job.

“Kitang-kita naman yun kahit dun sa video na na-upload sa YouTube.

“The initial… the natural thing to do is paghiwalayin mo. Ano ‘yan, e, maiinit ang ulo…

“It’s just that masyadong mataas yung ano, yung adrenalin ng mga tao at that time so, there was pushing, shoving…”

She highlighted the fact that the nine guards are not just after the welfare of the TV personalities alone.

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Bungag added, “We also have other passengers coming in, di ba. So you can just imagine how busy the area was.”

WHAT ABOUT THE OFFLOADING? Pro-Claudine watchers are saying this brouhaha probably would not have happened if not for the offloaded baggage.

Connie Bungag explains what happened:

“The airline has to observe certain weight limitation simply because the aircraft before it takes off is supposed to fly at a maximum take-off weight.

“What does that mean?

“For example, 100 tons, for example lang, ‘no… If you go beyond 100 tons, you’re inviting disaster, kasi yun lang yung threshold ng aircraft.

“Kaya, if you notice, meron tayong mga baggage limitation because lahat ng bagaheng iyan sinasalansan iyan sa dulo ng aircraft, so that the aircraft when it flies, balansiyado siya, taking into account also the fuel reserve.

“But there are certain procedures that airlines follow… but I am just privy about how the Santiagos were informed.

“Hindi ko na alam yung nangyari dun.

“But definitely the offloading was done for safety reasons.”

PEP was also able to interview Candice Iyog, the vice-president for marketing and distribution of Cebu Pacific Air, by phone last night.

PEP asked, "What’s the usual process in informing the passengers about their offloaded bags?"

Candice answered, “It depends when the offloading happens.

“If the offloading happens and then the boarding procedure has begun, then, it would be very difficult for us to identify who owns the bags and how we’ll relay it to them.

“The only other would be if we make an announcements in flight and just randomly say, ‘By the way, we left behind 11 pieces of bags… it’s just a bit awkward lang if we announce it in flight without even saying whose [bag] it is, di ba?

"So, if for example the decision to offload happens early on, like if the people were still at the boarding gate, there’s a chance to inform them, identify those bags that are going to be left behind.

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“Then, we would, of course, endeavor to inform them.

“But if for example in their case it happened they were already boarding, we were not able to inform them na.”

The couple, according to Candice, can avail of the pre-need compensation amounting to one thousand pesos per person.

Moving on with her statement, Candice said, “I’m not sure if they accepted our offer. That one, hindi ko lang alam, ha, kung okay na sila dun.”

PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENT. Back to the conversation with Connie Bungag, did you know that even the airport can sue Raymart and Claudine, and Mon Tulfo?

Bungag explained, “The airport is a public facility, so, yung nangyari kahapon, actually, that’s disturbing the peace and order inside the Terminal.

“But as the GM said, in his own words, ’At the moment, we’re not entertaining any thought’ because, naiintindihan namin, e.”

The airport’s general manager is Jose Angel Honrado, whose career at the Philippine Air Force began in 1974.

Bungag continued, “Nagkasakitan dala ng bugso ng damdamin and all of that… At this point, what we’re really trying to do is finishing all the statements, gathering all these statements para matulungan… And if we get subpoenaed or asked by either parties, maibigay natin sa kanila.

“Kung tutuusin, puwede… But ah, hindi ‘yan ang concern namin.”

What will happen if, in the process of investigation, some guards would be held liable?

She said, “Siguro in the course of reading other statements, at makita natin na, ‘Oo, nga, mukhang nagkulang.

“Then, maybe, it’s also a wake-up call for us.

“We have to revisit procedures that we have been implementing, and probably enhance yung kailangan or probably revisit other systems naman na kailangang baguhin.”

At present, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) is focused on the "23 systems," which include baggage handling and reconciliation system, Flight Information Display System, Building Management System, Local Area Network, Fire Alarm and Protection System, and Passenger Loading Bridges.

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Soon, the “isyung walang CCTV coverage, maso-solve na iyan... will actually cover as far as surveillance cameras,” said Bungag.

In the meantime, the airport is “in the process of planning for improvement.”

Lastly, we also asked the two ladies: Sino ang nauna?

Bungag was quick to answer, “Honestly, I do not know. I haven’t read any statement, and I haven’t heard any of the parties kung sinuman yung naimbestigahan. I really do not know kung sino.”

On the other hand, Candice said the “incident reports they filed for internal [purposes], they did not touch on the brawl.

“They basically, they just focused on the recovery options.

“Hindi talaga nila nakita.”


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