'Excluded' passengers forced to sleep at Naia Terminal 1

‘Excluded’ passengers forced to sleep on floors at Naia Terminal 1

/ 08:19 PM March 13, 2024

Naia Terminal 1

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 | REUTERS FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Just over week after the viral pests incident at the Philippines’ main international gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) is again finding itself in the middle of an issue — this time, about “excluded” passengers who are forced to sleep on cardboards at the airport’s floors.

The passengers, who were not able to leave the Philippines due to a slew of reasons, are seen making a home out of Naia Terminal 1’s gang chairs and floors after the airport’s day room was closed following a decision by past airport executives.


Questions arose about where the travelers should stay given their circumstances.


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In an interview on the sidelines of an event at Naia Terminal 3 on Wednesday, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Spokesperson Melvin Mabulac said that the bureau could not allow the passengers to leave Terminal 1 citing national security issues.

“We have to understand they are security concerns […] Once they are excluded, we turn them over to the airline operator and they should board the first available flight. There shouldn’t be any waiting time. That is the concept because they are a threat to our national security,” Mabulac explained.

Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Spokesperson Melvin Mabulac

Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Spokesperson Melvin Mabulac | Photo by Zeus Legaspi/INQUIRER.net

He likewise said that taking care of the excluded passengers should be shouldered by airline operators.

“On the part of returning the passengers to the country of origin, that is the responsibility of the airlines […] The airline that brought them in should be the ones to fly them back,” he stressed.

“They should board on the first available flight. That is what we are doing and we have already coordinated with the Miaa [Manila International Airport Authority],” he added.


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This, despite the Miaa officials’ call to let the excluded passengers stay in Naia Terminal 3 where conditions are much better.

“There are possibilities wherein they may escape. And we have to understand, threat(s) to national security must be our primary concern. That’s why our mandate is to let them board the first available flight and not make them wait,” the BI spokesperson said, explaining why they cannot heed Miaa’s plea.

As for why the passengers were excluded, Mabulac noted that this may be due to them being convicted of a public charge in their countries of origin.

“They could also be blacklisted, or they may be listed by the Interpol. These are the bases,” he added.

He further said that there are some 3,300 passengers who were not allowed entry into the Philippines as of 2023.

“That is how strict we are when it comes to exclusion,” the BI official said. As of posting time, the Miaa is still looking for a place in Terminal 1 where the excluded passengers may rest comfortably, according to its spokesperson, Chris Bendijo.

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The number of excluded passengers currently staying at Naia Terminal 1 is also yet to be disclosed.

TAGS: airports, aviation

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