GMA LOSES TEMPER OVER LAX SECURITY MEASURES AT NAIA

Manila, March 26, 2003 (STAR) By Sandy Araneta - President Arroyo displayed her legendary temper during a surprise inspection tour of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) yesterday and publicly scolded its general manager because anti-terrorism security checks there, according to her, were not tight enough.

"What if a bomb goes off here?" an irate Mrs. Arroyo Ė mindful of a March 4 terrorist bomb attack at Davao Cityís international airport Ė was heard yelling at a virtually speechless NAIA general manager Edgardo Manda.

Mrs. Arroyo told Manda that she saw vehicles were allowed to drive up to the airport or entering parking areas without being checked. Vehicles should be inspected before they enter the airport vicinity, she said.

"What security are you talking about?" she told Manda as they toured the airport, accompanied by dozens of presidential security agents and hordes of reporters. "People are going in and out. I donít see any security."

When Manda tried to explain, Mrs. Arroyo curtly cut him off. "I donít want explanations. I just want results."

Mrs. Arroyo said she wanted more security men at the airport, the use of more bomb-sniffing dogs, more police patrols and checkpoints.

"I wanted to make sure that the area outside the airport is just as safe," she told reporters in an impromptu press briefing later.

"Remember what happened in Davao? The experience with that terrorist attack (was that it occurred) outside the airport. Because airports usually should be well secured, so it is the outside that we have to make as secure as the inside."

She arrived at around 1:20 p.m. and stayed for an hour. She shook hands with Filipino overseas workers. A foreigner went up to her and wished her well.

Last March 4, 22 people, one of them an American missionary, were killed and at least 150 were wounded when a bomb went off at the crowded arrival area outside the Davao airport.

Two alleged members of a terrorist unit with links to Osama bin Ladenís al-Qaeda network are believed to be behind the bombing, the nationís worst terrorist attack in recent years.

Tough-talking Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said in his weekly television program that the suspects are already in his custody. "It is enough that these two are with me, period. Whatever I will do them, Iím the only one who knows," he said.

Investigators said evidence pointed to a "special urban terrorist action group" operated by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had been linked to al-Qaeda last year, Duterte said.

"The (group) is logically the al-Qaeda group of the MILF," Duterte said. Duterte is the overall "crisis manager" appointed by President Arroyo to solve the crime.

This is the first time that al-Qaeda has been linked to the bombing that killed 22 people and wounded 150 others.

While top MILF leaders have been charged with the bombing ó the nationís worst terrorist attack in three years ó the rebels have denied any involvement with al-Qaeda or other international terrorist organizations. ó With Marichu Villanueva, AFP


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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