The Division of Customs Services is being beefed up in preparation for the influx of tourists to the Commonwealth, buoyed by new airlines coming in and an increase in the number of flights to Saipan.
Division director Jose C. Mafnas said that Customs personnel went through two trainings in the last two weeks from Oceania Customs Organization operations manager Tevita Tupuo and Superior Court Associate Judge Joseph N. Camacho.
Mafnas said further planning is needed to avoid long lines and overcrowding at the airport during arrivals and departures.
“We are already foreseeing a further increase in passengers with the new airlines coming to Saipan. We’re preparing ourselves, so we don’t get crowded or cramped up with passengers at the airport,” he said. “In order for us to achieve that, we need to have proper equipment and training for our officers. Right now we’re looking for more portable equipment and for drug protection. We’re also researching on what equipment we’re going to need for the airport and seaports to facilitate passengers.”
Mafnas said that they are also waiting for a report done by a firm hired by the Marianas Visitors Authority.
“The MVA has hired a firm to do a study on the projection of the number of passengers that would be entering Saipan in the next five years,” Mafnas said. “And I’m waiting for that report, so we could make a final decision on how many more officers are we going to hire and train to work in securing our ports. We already hired eight, with two for Tinian and Rota, to also prepare for the new flights.”
Two weeks ago, Camacho helped train Customs officers and cadets in the proper way of searching and seizure, and understanding probable cause. The cadets are from the sixth cycle.
“Basically we invited Judge Camacho to impart to our officers the basics of enforcement. This is just updating our officers who work at our ports of entry to make sure they are confident and have the knowledge if what they’re doing in enforcement is right,” said Mafnas.
“They would know what to do when they stand behind a counter and find something. From the process of preparing the case, to have them be confident as a Customs officers and know their duties and responsibilities.”