‘No accord yet on facial recognition machines at Saipan airport’


U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Commonwealth Ports Authority are still in talks about CBP’s reported plan to install facial recognition machines at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

“No such understanding or agreement yet,” according to CPA board airport facilities committee chair Barrie C. Toves yesterday.

Toves said CPA management is going to have a meeting with CBP next week to iron out the issue about the plan to install facial recognition machines.

In China, facial recognition machines have been used at some airports.

He said he communicated with CPA deputy director Edward Mendiola about the matter because it was not brought to the board’s attention.

Toves said there was an error in the media report (not Saipan Tribune) quoting a CBP director about the installation of facial recognition machines at the airport as there is no such agreement yet.

“It is something that they are discussing. The reason why I was concerned about it is because it wasn’t brought up to my committee and we’re not aware that that is something that CBP is working with CPA,” he said.

After the meeting with CBP, Toves expects the CPA deputy director to report back to the board.

He said if CPA does have the financial capability to fund the project, he is willing to push for it, but as far as details about the plan to install those machines at the airport is concerned, those have not been finalized yet.

“I don’t know where the story came out. In fact, the deputy director is kind of surprised that it went out in the media and CPA is not prepared on the issue,” he said.

Toves said if it is something that is going to be beneficial to the traveling public and address the long wait times at the airport, he is willing to support it.

Toves said CPA management is going to have further discussions with CPB to find out more details on the table for them to talk.

“As chairman of the airport facilities committee I am whole heartedly 100 percent in support of that if we can be convinced that it is something that is necessary to address a major problem at the airport,” he said.

Toves said right now CPA has cut down on its operational expenses because they are expecting lower revenue, at least from the airport side, because of the major airlines’ pullout.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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