Filipino passengers concerned over TSA’s screening failures

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

June 2, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO – After news broke of serious security failures by the Transportation Security Administration or TSA, its acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, was immediately reassigned. However, the Department of Homeland Security or DHS said Carraway’s reassignment is not related to those reports.

This came on the same day as the revelation that screeners at dozens of airports nationwide flunked almost every test conducted by an undercover team from the DHS. The team was able to get banned items, such as mock weapons and explosives, through the screening process in 67 out of 70 tests.

“These are anomalies TSA screeners and their equipment should locate and at least flag for additional screening. To miss 67 out of 70 different instances is extremely alarming and I would say even dangerous,” said Chad Wolfe, former TSA official.

Republican Representative John Mica of the Transportation and Oversight Committee said he’s not surprised that the TSA is troubled. He explained, “The failure rate that’s been disclosed in this report is not atypical of what I’ve seen. I’ve seen even worse. TSA needs to be completely reformed. It’s security theatre and we need to be focused on real security and real steps that go after people that pose a risk.”

Ranulfo and Arnulfa Efondo travel to the Philippines every year. They said they don’t mind being thoroughly checked by the TSA, if it means other go through the same process as well. “They need to be strict to keep all of the passengers safe,” he said.

Another frequent traveler to the Philippines, Gemma Posadas said, TSA agents need to be even stricter. She said, “Whatever they’re doing now needs to be improved, because there are failing to prevent banned items from going through.”

While the U.S. government calls this new troubling report on the TSA alarming, historically, it has invested a lot of money in the agency. In the last few years, over $540 million was spent on baggage screening equipment and millions more on training.

Nonong Valdez, who travels from the Philippines to the U.S. every year, said despite the troubling TSA report, he feels safest in U.S. airports. He said, “I believe in the ability of the US government to put these things under control.”

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has directed TSA to take a series of actions, several of which are now in place. But those measures for improvement, have not yet been identified.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at henni_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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