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Tighter watch on smartphones at PH airports

MANILA, Philippines–The Office for Transport Security (OTS) on Thursday has directed its airport personnel to require passengers to present all their electronic gadgets, including smartphones, on their persons and in their carry-on luggage to be subjected to a separate examination.

The OTS, an agency under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), issued the order on the heels of reports from the United States that smartphones might be used by terrorists to carry explosive devices that could pass through airport security undetected.

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“Screeners in all our airports were directed to screen all electronic gadgets, i.e., smartphones, laptops, iPads, cameras with their batteries separately by taking them out of their bags and placing them on a tray for X-ray screening,” the OTS said in a statement issued Thursday.

The OTS said that, previously, only laptops were taken from passengers’ bags to subject them to a separate X-ray screening.

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“The inspection of electronic gadgets is not a new policy but a precautionary measure we are adopting due to persistent intelligence information of terrorist attempts to blow up aircraft through gadgets of passengers specifically in flights entering the US,” the OTS said.

Jonathan Maliwat, OTS spokesman, said in a phone interview “the procedure is not new. Airport security personnel have been checking the gadgets of passengers through profiling.”

Passengers will be required to remove the batteries from their gadgets and submit them for separate X-ray screening, unlike in the case of US-bound passengers who must power up their smartphones before boarding. This stricter security measure will be done for both check-in and carry-on baggage.

Maliwat explained that a separate X-ray screening would allow security personnel to have an unimpeded look at the gadgets.

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TAGS: air travel, airports, gadgets, Security, smartphones
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