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Gov’t acts on ‘tanim bala’ cases in local airports

Malacañang assured the people yesterday that the government will go after those involved in the “tanim bala” scam at the Ninoy Aquino International and other airports in the country.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin F. Lacierda said that President Aquino has directed Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio T. Abaya to look into the tanim bala complaints at the NAIA.

According to Lacierda, the government is putting up measures to prevent passengers from being victimized by the tanim bala scam.

He noted that Abaya assured that additional closed circuit television cameras will be installed.

“Government is there to make sure po na aayusin po natin ‘yan. Kung ano ang mga nangyayari diyan, tinitingnan po natin ngayon ‘yan. Makakaasa po kayo na we will make sure na kung sino man ang gumagawa niyan hahabulin natin. Kung talagang may sindikato diyan, titingnan po

ng ating kalihim na si Secretary Jun Abaya,” Lacierda said.

“We’re looking at the process. We’re looking at how that happened. We’re looking at the personnel involved. We want to take away that fear from them. We will ensure the safety of each and every passenger who uses our terminals. So we are taking a hard look on that,” he

said. Lacierda advised the public to pack their belongings carefully to avoid being victimized by tanim bala syndicates.

“We should make sure that we pack our belongings doon po sa luggage po para klarong-klaro wala hong makakasabi na tayo mismo ang naglagay para we rule out any evidence, we rule out any proof na talagang (ang) may kagagawan po ‘yung pasahero,” Lacierda said.

“Let’s make sure that talagang tayo lang po, wala po ‘yung mga inihahabilin, kung (may) inihahabilin, inspeksyunin po ninyo kung ano ‘yon para we rule out na hindi tayo ang naglagay, ang pasahero ang hindi gumawa niyan. We should rule that out clearly,” he said.

Passengers have started to put cling wraps or plastics around their luggages while some have placed duct tapes on the zipper of their bags and locks to ensure that they will not be victimized by tanim bala.

Several complaints have accused airport personnel of being involved in the scam. Netizens are also up in arms against tanim bala scam.

Tanim bala has reached Davao City.

On Friday, a certain Engr. Augusto Dagan was arrested for allegedly carrying two live bullets in his luggage when he checked in at the Davao City International Airport.

Local media deemed it as the first case of tanim bala in Mindanao.

Reports said security screening officers at the airport discovered two live 9mm bullets inside the pocket of Dagan’s luggage and called the attention of policemen who brought the 60-year old visiting engineer to the Sasa police station here for questioning.

Dagan arrived in Davao City last Monday from Manila to visit a proposed giant water supply project. He was booked on a morning flight of the Philippine Airlines to Manila when the bullets were discovered, investigators said.

During police investigation, Dagan denied owning the bullets and suspected that they could have been planted in his luggage when he was at the NAIA last Monday.

Officials of the Sasa police station shared Dagan’s suspicion but said that possession of the bullets gave them no recourse but to charge him with illegal possession of ammunition.

Dagan was detained briefly at the police station and freed later after posting P150,000 bail, reports said.

Tanim bala victim 56-year-old domestic helper Gloria Ortinez is now undergoing treatment because of her ordeal, her lawyer said.

Atty. Spocky Farolan said Ortinez was released for further after Pasay City Assistant Prosecutor Willy Chan noticed that the attached photograph depicting one ammunition for carbine rifle and the actual ammunition allegedly seized from the victim presented during the inquest proceedings was distinctively different from one another.

Chan referred Ortinez’s case for regular preliminary investigation and directed the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Unit of the National Capital Region to release Ortinez from their custody.

Officials are investigating a tanim bala complaint at the Laoag City International Airport.

LCIA manager Ronald Estavillo said Charles Nalupta from Batac City claimed that he was a victim of tanim bala before his departure last July 17.

Nalupta accused baggage inspectors of placing a bullet inside his golf bag. The inspectors belied the accusation and claimed that Nalupta’s bags underwent proper procedure.

Security personnel at the NAIA must stop “assassinating” Filipinos and travelers going through the country’s premier gateway airport like former Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. who was shot in tarmac on August 21, 1983.

Sen. Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero made the call following a series of tanim bala complaints from foreign travelers and Filipinos particularly the hard-pressed overseas Filipino workers.

Purpose of such a scheme is obviously to extort money from the “suspects.”

“Planting bullets in the baggage of Filipinos and tourists passing through the NAIA is a great disservice to the memories of the late Ninoy Aquino who died from bullets fired by dishonorable men,” Escudero said.

“The government must seriously act now to stop these figurative assassinations of Filipinos and tourists. We must hold accountable to the fullest extent of the law these dishonorable airport officials and personnel,” said Escudero, independent candidate for vice president.
(with reports from Ali G. Macabalang, Freddie G. Lazaro, Ariel Fernandez, and Mario B. Casayuran) (MADEL S. NAMIT)