Security officer at Manila airport in hot water for swallowing US$300 filched off passenger’s wallet, Latest World News - The New Paper

Security officer at Manila airport in hot water for swallowing US$300 filched off passenger’s wallet

A screening officer at Manila’s international airport has stirred outrage online after she was seen in a video swallowing US$300 (S$410) worth of cash filched off a passenger’s wallet.

Footage from an airport security camera showed the officer – identified by the state-run Philippine News Agency as Irency Morados – stuffing US$300 worth of bills into her mouth.

She was drinking from a water bottle handed to her by body scan operator Regino Allen.

Her supervisor, Mr Abraham de Luna, could also be seen talking to her, as she appeared to be choking from swallowing the bills while covering her mouth with a handkerchief.

A report by the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) said the money came from the wallet of a passenger, who handed over his shoulder bag to Morados before going through a full-body scan.

The passenger, however, noticed that his wallet was open with money inside it missing, and confronted those in the screening area.

This was when Morados turned away and began swallowing the bills “to avoid getting caught”, the OTS said in its report.

But she did not notice that she had instead turned towards a security camera as she was stuffing the money into her mouth.

The OTS said her supervisor, Mr De Luna, was suspected of being in on the scam, as he was seen approaching Morados to “apparently ensure that the bills are dispatched to preclude any evidence”.

On Thursday, Philippine airport authorities ordered that charges be filed against Morados.

The incident happened on Sept 8.

Transportation Minister Jaime Bautista said he was seeking the “maximum penalty” against Morados.

This is the third highly publicised incident of theft at Manila’s airport in 2023, the online news site Rappler reported.

Earlier in 2023, airport security personnel were found stealing money from a Thai tourist.

Five days later, another screening officer was arrested for stealing a Chinese passenger’s watch.

In response to these thefts, the OTS ordered its personnel to stop wearing jackets and remove pockets from their uniforms.

The Manila airport was ranked in a survey in July by property management and hospitality firm Casago as the eighth worst airport in the world based on passengers’ queueing experiences.

In November 2022, the travel website named it the third most stressful airport in South-east Asia and Oceania.