Smart phones to be screened separately at airports in wake of bomb threats
MANILA, Philippines—The Office for Transport Security on Thursday issued a new directive for all airport screeners to require passengers to remove all electronic gadgets including smart phones from their luggage and screen them separately.
The directive from the OTS, an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), came on the heels of the reports reaching their counterparts in the US that smart phones used by terrorists as explosive devices could pass through airport security undetected.
“Screeners in all our airports were directed to screen all electronic gadgets i.e smart phones, laptops, iPads, cameras with their batteries separately by placing these items on a tray and out of the luggage for X-ray screening,” the OTS said in a statement issued late Thursday afternoon.
The OTS said previously, only laptops were taken out of the passengers’ luggage to subject them to a separate X-ray screening.
“Inspection of electronic gadgets is not a new policy but a precautionary measure we are adopting due to persistent intelligence information on terrorist attempts to blow up aircraft through gadgets of passengers specifically in flights entering the US,” the OTS said.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the US’ Department of Homeland Security recently issued an advisory directing overseas airports with US-bound flights to require passengers to turn on their smart phones before boarding following intelligence information that terrorists have figured out how to turn phones into explosive devices without being detected by airport security scanners.
Jonathan Maliwat, spokesperson for OTS said in a phone interview that in practice, airport officers would ask passengers at random ask to remove the batteries from their phones to make sure that these were not explosive devices.
“The procedure is not new. The airport security personnel have been checking the gadgets of the passengers through profiling (techniques),” Maliwat said.
At present, only the flag-carrier Philippine Airlines offer direct flights to destinations in the US. Other foreign carriers like Delta and the United Airlines have connecting flights in Japan and Guam.