ILOILO – What would happen if terrorists planted a bomb, went on a shooting rampage, and took hostages at the Iloilo Airport in Cabatuan town?
Authorities tried to answer that question during a “full-scale” simulation that lasted for more than an hour on Saturday.
The drill tested the abilities of various agencies, including the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Department of Health, in responding to a bomb explosion that stemmed from an “unattended baggage.”
“It has been a successful activity. Various agencies helped us in the preparation,” said Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ (CAAP) Iloilo Airport acting manager Manuela Luisa Palma.
The exercise started at 8 a.m. and ended at 9:10.
Palma cited the improvement of the Iloilo International Airport and the multi-agencies in the full-scale emergency response. She said the airport has improved its communication aspect with the help of the National Telecommunications Commission.
“In the previous activities, we had lapses. So this one, we have improved,” Palma added.
Palma, however, saw room for improvement for the logistics aspects, saying the airport can add more equipment for radio communication.
Classified as an international airport, the Iloilo Airport is the first airport in both Western Visayas and the island of Panay to be built to international standards, and it is also considered to be the primary gateway into the region. It opened to commercial traffic on June 14, 2007.
CAAP issued the announcement on the shutdown early so that passengers with scheduled Dec. 14 flights could make arrangements with their airlines ahead of time.
The Iloilo Airport has a 13,700-square-meter main passenger terminal. It is divided into three levels: arrivals and baggage claim on the first floor, check-in on the second floor and departures on the third floor.
Designed to accommodate 1.2 million passengers a year over a decade ago, it is poised for expansion as it now serves 2.4 million passengers annually.
The airport, being a certified aerodrome, also conducts full-scale emergency response drills once every two years.
“If you are a certified aerodrome, it is a requirement and to also test the inter-operability of the various agencies that help us when there are incidents in the airport,” Palma said.
She assured that the strict security measures at the airport would prevent any bomb incident.
“We have an implementation plan and security procedures that we follow,” she said, noting the task in explosive ordnance is being spearheaded by the Iloilo Airport Police Station.
Meanwhile, five domestic flights were affected and transferred to other available hours due to the drill.
CAAP terminal supervisor Arthur Parreno said the operations in the airport immediately resumed after the termination of the exercise./PN