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Philippines puts airports on high alert after anonymous warning planes could ‘explode’


The Philippines has placed all its commercial airports on heightened alert after an anonymous warning that bombs could go off on planes headed out of Manila, including to several tourist hotspots, its civil aviation authority said Friday.

“Immediate enhanced security measures” were being implemented at 42 commercial airports across the country, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said in a media advisory, adding the warnings were being verified.

The warning had been sent by email to air traffic services about a threat to flights out of the capital Manila headed to Davao, Bicol and the popular tourist regions of Palawan and Cebu.

“While the information is currently under validation, immediate enhanced security measures are being implemented across all airports,” CAAP said.

CAAP did not say when the warning was made.


Passengers queue at airline counters in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, January 2, 2023.
Passengers queue at airline counters in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines on Jan. 2, 2023.
REUTERS

On Friday the aviation regulator released to media an Oct. 4 memo of the order given to airport security managers to beef up security, thoroughly inspect baggage and conduct round-the-clock surveillance after receiving the email threat.

The Oct. 4 memo included a screenshot of what it said was the threat, which did not contain the word “bomb” but said “an airplane will explode” at Manila’s international airport today and “please beware”.

“Cebu, Palawan, Bicol and Davao will also be hit”, the anonymous email said.


A Philippine Airlines Airbus A321 passenger aircraft prepares to land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the skyline of the Makati business centre is seen from Taguig City, suburban Manila on August 19, 2023.
A Philippine Airlines Airbus A321 passenger aircraft prepares to land at the Ninoy Aquino International airport as the skyline of the Makati business center is seen from Taguig City, suburban Manila on Aug. 19, 2023.
AFP via Getty Images

A source at Philippines Airlines, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to media, said the flag carrier was operating “business as usual”.

A spokesperson at Cebu Pacific Air said the airline was “following usual protocols”.

Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista said patrols had been increased and K9 units deployed at all terminals of Manila’s international airport, and law enforcement agencies were coordinating closely.

“There are no expected impact to any scheduled flights and we would like to ensure the travelling public that protocols are in place to ensure everyone’s safety and security,” Bautista said in a statement.

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