MANILA, APRIL 25, 2011 (STAR) By Rudy Santos - It only takes hopia.

The popular Filipino bean-filled pastry introduced by the Chinese has managed to fool the expensive high-tech equipment

at the airport used to detect drugs.

Angel Honrado, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) manager, earlier boasted that their brand new x-ray machines could detect even the slightest trace of illegal drugs.

He said the MIAA bought 39 brand new x-ray machines late last year and 80 other machines that were strategically deployed in the four passenger terminals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“These x-ray machines are capable of detecting explosives and drugs and other organic materials that will appear orange in the monitor. If such case happens, we will hold the baggage for manual inspection with the help of drug sniffing dogs.”

Honrado vehemently denied claims that the x-ray machines can be fallible.

But an airport official pointed out the machines could only work effectively if there are sniffing dogs around.

“X-ray machines can detect drugs provided there is a K-9 beside it,” one airport observer said.

To prove their point, an official from the Airport Operators Council (AOC) slipped through a box of hopia with shabu at the bottom.

The x-ray machine failed to detect the drugs, apparently misled by the load of hopia inside the box.

Since x-rays pass through the pastry, they are detected as “organic” material.

Different materials like metal and other materials absorb x-rays, the items shown at the computer monitor show them at different levels.

While the colors used to signify “inorganic” and metal might vary, all x-ray systems use shades of orange to represent “organic.”

Since explosives and drugs are also classified as “organic,” the box of hopia slipped through the x-ray machine under the machine operator’s nose.

Honrado also downplayed reports that NAIA 1 is the 5th worst airport in the world and the worst in Asia.

Honrado declared NAIA 1 is an airport facility that discharges passengers safely and effectively – not accommodate sleepers.

Honrado claimed critics might have taken their cue from the website sleepingairports.net, with an article “The Guide to Sleeping in Airport.”

According to Honrado, it appeared that the website is a favorite of travelers on a tight budget, backpackers and similar entities who prefer sleeping in airports to save money while waiting for their flights.

“I am inviting everyone to proceed to the departure area of NAIA terminal 1 where 30 percent of improvements were noticeable and we can promise you clean and functional comfort rooms,” he said.

Honrado said MIAA has enough money to fund the ongoing improvements, such as upgrading comfort rooms, providing carpets, repairing the air-conditioning system.

“The airport total collection per year is about P8 billion, of which 20 percent goes to the national government, and 15 percent of the dividend unused,” he said.

Honrado said MIAA gets its financing from the fund to upgrade NAIA 1.

According to Honrado, Terminal 1 is the airport for foreigners departing or arriving, which is the focus of improvements.

Honrado also announced that starting January 2012, the terminal fee of P750 would be reduced to P550 unless there is need for extension.

In 2007, MIAA board passed a resolution adding P200 to the P550 terminal fee to fund its security development program.

The program would end in December 2011 and if no extension is requested, the terminal fee would revert back to P550 per passenger.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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