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Palace downplays ‘tanim-bala’ case

Roque: No extortion, victim still allowed to leave

A Malacañang official downplayed on Monday a woman’s complaint about the alleged planting of a bullet in her suitcase at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) on June 15, saying it was not a case of “tanim-bala.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a briefing that unlike previous incidents, the bullet was just seized by Naia officials who allowed the passenger to board her flight.

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“We do not consider this a tanim-bala incident because her departure was not delayed. What happened was the bullet was confiscated and she was allowed to depart,” he told reporters.

Roque quoted the results of an investigation into the incident which was reported by the passenger, Kristine Bumanlag-Moran, in a viral Facebook post.

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Moran narrated that she and her mother were at Naia Terminal 3 on Friday, June 15, to board a plane for Zamboanga when an airport officer found a 9-mm bullet in her brown suitcase. She insisted that the bullet was not hers.

Luggage wrapped in plastic

But a statement issued by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Sunday said that the passenger’s baggage was still wrapped in clear plastic when the bullet was found inside, making it unlikely it had been planted by airport personnel.

The DOTr added that nobody extorted money from Moran in exchange for letting her board her flight.

The Manila International Airport Authority also said in a statement that based on its investigation, there were no irregularities in the search done on Moran’s suitcase as it concluded, with the DOTr, that tanim-bala “was a thing of the past.”

Roque, quoting an investigation report submitted to Malacañang, said some of the woman’s relatives were police and military personnel.

“It appears that the luggage she used may not be hers, so maybe the bullet was only left inside the luggage,” he said.

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He added that unlike previous cases in which the passenger was prevented from leaving or even became the victim of extortion, Friday’s incident was different.

“Tanim-bala used to mean that if a bullet or gun was found on you, you won’t be allowed to leave and the corrupt officers would extort money because a passenger, especially an [overseas worker], really wants to leave,” Roque said.

“In this case, the bullet was confiscated and the passenger was still allowed to leave,” he told reporters.

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TAGS: Harry Roque, NAIA, tanim bala
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