Lawmaker in NAIA Fracas faces probe

Aniceto John Bertiz III

THE House Committee on Ethics and Privileges will look into the incident involving ACT-OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz who allegedly showed arrogance when asked to undergo security check at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

While he will not be removed as Deputy Minority Leader, Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said the committee will wait for a complaint to be filed against Bertiz before investigating him.

“I consulted the members of the Minority, and there might be possibility that we will take this up before the committee on ethics,” Suarez said in an interview.

Suarez also said they will wait for an outside party or complainant to file a case against Bertiz but if there is none, the committee will still conduct an investigation.

“Marami nang naglalabasang issue, that is why we should have deeper investigation, since ang laki ng pagtingin namin sa mga OFWs,” Suarez added.

Another member of the Minority, Agri party-list Rep. Delphine Gan Lee is the current chairman of the ethics committee.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo refused to comment on the “negative” attitude and actions of Bertiz  but instead will just wait for the separate investigation of the House of Representatives.

In a separate press conference, Bertiz apologized for the way he acted when he went through the security checkpoint at the NAIA Terminal 2 on Saturday.

“There is absolutely no justification for the way I conducted myself. I sincerely apologize not only to the security assistant that I confronted, but also to the public for my actions,” Bertiz said.

The solon also said he is very much willing to subject himself to any investigation to be conducted by the House of Representatives and Department of Transportation (DoTr).

‘Though I have my own reason and explanation for what I have done, I also take cognizance of my action that as a representative of OFW and of million Filipino people, I should act diligently in conformity with the ethical standard of public official,” he added.

Meanwhile, a document circulating is saying that the ACTS-OFW party-list is removing Bertiz from its list of members and likewise withdrawing him as the party-list’s first nominee.

The group also wanted to declare Bertiz “persona non grata.”

Based on the document signed by party-list chairman Feliciano Adorna Jr. and Board Secretary/Director Corazon Polinag, the solon was already being removed in March of this year.

In response Bertiz called the document fake and not official since Adorna is no longer connected wit the ACTS-OFW.

Bertiz claim denied

There were no Chinese nationals that were given VIP treatment ahead of him, contrary to the claim of ACTS-OFW Rep. Bertiz III whose spat with a staffer from the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) went viral over the weekend.

This was learned yesterday from Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Ed Monreal who said he himself and other airport officials thoroughly reviewed the 29-minute CCTV footage prior to the incident.

Bertiz’s chief of staff, Jun Aguilar, explained in a press statement that immediately before the congressman went through the checkpoint, “a group of Chinese-looking passengers escorted by airport staff had breezed through and did not undergo the same security protocols that everybody else had to go through.”

“The congressman questioned the security checker why those who went before him just casually walked through and were not properly searched,” the statement said further.

Monreal said the video recording they reviewed came from the CCTV both of the OTS and the NAIA Terminal 2, which showed Bertiz passing through and then confronting the OTS member concerned while showing an ID and then later taking the OTS man’s ID.

According to Monreal, the OTS staffer continues to be assigned at the airport and that the decision on whether or not to take back the ID of Bertiz -- which gives him access to the airport —- will be reviewed as part of due process which has several stages.

He also welcomed the public apology offered by Bertiz and said that the MIAA is also sorry for the brouhaha although it was no fault of the authority. He likewise apologized to the media for not immediately answering queries, saying he had to review the CCTV first before he could give an informed answer.

He said that legislators and certain government officials are given access passes or IDs upon request and that such is given only as a matter of courtesy.  However, Monreal stressed, having such access does not give them the right or privilege to circumvent the regulations being implemented at the NAIA Terminals and they still have to submit to security protocols as these are mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

In the case at hand, Monreal said the best thing that Bertiz should have done was to report the matter to the OTS staff member’s supervisor if indeed he had complaints of double standard or arrogance.

The airport chief stressed that those in government are not exempt from airport regulations, even President Rodrigo Duterte who never demanded VIP treatment at the country’s airports.

With Itchie G. Cabayan