Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa yesterday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to unmask the members of the alleged syndicate behind the controversial “tanim bala” scam that victimizes airline passengers in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The order of Caguioa came after one of the victims of the “tanim bala” went to the NBI to file a complaint against airport personnel who allegedly planted a bullet in the front pouch of her knap sack.
In a Department Order, Caguioa directed the NBI to form a seven-man Special Task Force consisting of operatives from the Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (AOTCD) to conduct “a thorough, in-depth, and comprehensive investigation and case build-up” on the scam that has gained international attention.
With the constitution of an NBI special task force, victims like 34-year-old housewife Josie Marie Paz Trias will be able to charge those who were behind the modus-operandi in airports.
Trias, who appeared before the NBI – National Capital Region past 3 p.m. yesterday, said seeing her 51-year old mother and 75-year-old grandmother traumatized by the “tanim bala” experience made her decide to file a complaint.
Just like in other cases, Trias said that a bullet, wrapped in a small transparent plastic, was found at the front zipper pocket of her gray-colored backpack.
The incident took place on Oct. 27 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) 3. Trias said she together with her mother, grandmother and an uncle were about to take the Cebu Pacific flight to Singapore at 1:30 p.m.
She said her grandmother was suffering from leukemia and stage four breast cancer and had to go to the Singapore General Hospital for several tests.
At around 11 a.m., as their handcarried luggage was being passed through the second x-ray, someone told her that one of the bags of her uncle was heavy and they had to transfer some of its contents to another bag.
“It was at that time when I lost sight of my bag because our focus was in removing some of the contents from one bag and transferring them to another bag,” she recalled.
Trias swore that she checked her bag twice before going to the airport.
Trias said she was asked to open her bag and remove its content. The bullet was pulled out by a female personnel in one of the pockets that had no padlock.
“I expected that I would be left behind or I would be brought to jail. My mother was already turning red and her blood pressure might have risen while my ailing grandmother was already in panic,” she recalled.
Trias said she asked if she could talk to a lawyer and the NBI.
That was when a senior airport personnel approached her and said: “Let us just fix this.”
But before the senior official could say anything else, Trias cut her off and said that she is willing to go to jail because she knew she is innocent.
She added why should she put a bullet in her bag when their purpose of traveling was to go to the hospital for her grandmother.
The officer then offered to let her go and said they would just try to make it appear that the bullet was an “anting-anting” or amulet.
She allowed to join her family for the Singapore flight. (LEONARDO POSTRADO)