BI, Miaa told: Upgrade memory of CCTVs at airports by next week | Inquirer News

BI, Miaa told: Upgrade memory of CCTVs at airports by next week

By: - Reporter / @BPinlacINQ
/ 04:09 PM April 19, 2023

Senator tells BI and Miaa to upgrade retention period for airport CCTV footage by next week

This March 26, 2020, photo shows the facade of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City. INQUIRER PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

MANILA, Philippines — Senators have called on the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to upgrade by next week the insufficient memory of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) at Philippine airports and immigration counters.

The Miaa and BI were given the one-week ultimatum after they revealed during a hearing of the Senate committees on migrant workers and women, children, family relations, and gender equality on Wednesday that the retention period for their CCTV footage is only 30 days and 23 days, respectively.


The panels asked for the March 8 CCTV footage from the airport as three trafficked Indonesians arrived in Manila a day before and finished immigration and quarantine processes past midnight the following day. The security video would have been crucial in tying loose ends in identifying the people liable for the trafficking of foreigners.


READ: PH hosts ‘scam hubs’ in condos for trafficking victims, senators learn

Is this intentional?

Miaa was requested to provide the committees with the CCTV footage to help identify the person – wearing a white shirt, apple green vest, and navy blue pants – who supposedly assisted the trafficked foreigners through the quarantine and immigration processes.

“Unfortunately, the retention period of CCTV is only for 30 days, so we no longer have the copy of that from March 8,” Miaa General Manager Cesar Chiong said partly in Filipino.

Hearing this, Senator Raffy Tulfo stressed the need to upgrade the Miaa’s CCTV equipment.

“Not next month. Next week, your CCTV system must be upgraded. It must be done in a week,” he said.

Tulfo then raised the possibility of the Miaa “intentionally” not extending the retention period of its CCTV footage because there were plans to be “in cahoots” with authorities enabling human trafficking.


“Maybe the reason why you didn’t upgrade it…is that you found the loophole that people won’t catch your errant activities in Naia if the CCTV footage will only last for 30 days,” he added.

But Chiong said he doubts this is the case.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who presided over the hearing, backed Tulfo’s proposal for a one-week ultimatum for Miaa to upgrade its CCTV footage retention period.

“I will talk to our technical committee about what we might need, let’s say, for emergency procurement…to do the upgrade,” Chiong assured the senators.

Aside from seeking an upgrade of the CCTV equipment, Hontiveros also asked Chiong to check the list of Miaa employees, particularly those wearing apple green vests, who reported to duty around the time the trafficked Indonesians landed in Manila.

‘Long overdue’ upgrade

Hontiveros likewise sought the BI to provide the committees with its CCTV footage on March 8 to verify the immigration officer’s alleged irregular handling of the trafficking victims.

But she was shaken to learn that BI’s CCTVs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 can only retain footage for 23 days despite the agency being hounded by controversies like prostitution related to Philippine offshore gaming operators, illegal recruitment and detention, and the infamous “pastillas scam.”

READ: BI employees sacked over ‘pastillas’ scam no longer reporting for work

“Isn’t it long overdue to upgrade the storage capacity because the videos the Senate might ask of you now and then are very critical?” Hontiveros said.

BI Commissioner Norman Tansingco pointed out that in the previous administration, there was already a plan for the agency to purchase more CCTV equipment under regular procurement.

“Unfortunately, due to technicalities, the procurement did not push through. And the funds for that procurement was reverted back to the National Treasury,” he said.

Hontiveros, however, argued that this is an “unforgivable event” given that the need to improve the BI’s CCTV equipment should have been done some two to three years ago.

“May I pose the same timeframe given by Sen. [Tulfo] to the airport authorities to the bureau – Can you complete that aborted regular procurement by next week and at the very least, give the committee an update about its status and when the upgrade will be completed?”

Tansingco apologized to the senator, saying he “cannot commit” because the BI had no funds to upgrade its CCTV equipment this year.

READ: Hontiveros pushes anew for BI overhaul amid human trafficking mess

This, he noted, is the reason why the BI had asked the Department of Budget Management (DBM) to allow a realignment of funds or a special release for this line item.

Tansingco said the BI would need P50 million to upgrade its CCTV. And if the upgrades are focused on CCTV equipment at Naia Terminals 1 and 3, the agency will only need P10 million.

Hontiveros then told Tansingco to inform the DBM that the panels are likewise requesting to expedite the upgrading of BI’s CCTV equipment, noting that the agency “could not even provide us critical videos in our investigation to stop human trafficking and cryptocurrency scamming.”


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TAGS: Bureau of Immigration, CCTV, human trafficking, Miaa, NAIA, Senate probe

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