Cayetano files complaint vs Abaya, airport execs over ‘tanim-bala’
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday filed an administrative complaint against Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and executives of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) at the Office of the Ombudsman over the alleged “tanim-bala (planting a bullet) scam” victimizing airline passengers.
Cayetano, who filed the complaint with Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption chairperson Dante Jimenez, asked the Ombudsman that preventive suspension order be issued against DOTC Secretary Abaya, Manila International Airport Authority general manager Jose Angel Honrado, Office for Transportation Security administrator Roland Recomono, and Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group (PNP-Avsegroup) director Pablo Francisco Balagtas for neglect of duty.
Citing Executive Order No. 226 or the Institutionalization of the Doctrine of Command Responsibility in all Government Offices, Cayetano said an official is presumed to have knowledge of irregularities “when illegal acts have been committed within his area of responsibility” such as “tanim-bala” incidents.
“Sa ilalim ng EO 226 ni President Ramos, ‘pag may alam kang nangyayaring krimen, nangyaring krimen, at alam mong ang mga personel na nasa ilalim mo ang gumagawa at wala kang ginawa to be proactive, ibig sabihin wala kang preventive corrective measure, liable ka administratively,” Cayetano told reporters after filing the complaint.
(Under the EO 226 of President Ramos, if you have the knowledge about a crime that happened and continues to happen, and you know that the personnel under your supervision commit them and you did not do anything to be proactive, it means that you have no preventive corrective measure, you are liable administratively.)
“While cases are being investigated now, it took the government more than one month bago mag-meeting at the level of DOTC, para pag-usapan ‘yung ‘laglag-bala,’” he added.
(While cases are being investigated now, it took the government more than one month before a meeting
at the level of DOTC took place, to talk about “laglag-bala” [another term for “tanim-bala”].)
If proven guilty of negligence, Cayetano wants the named officials to be dismissed from office.
In the alleged extortion racket, airport security officials supposedly insert bullets in the luggage of passengers and ask them for money in exchange of dropping charges of illegal possession of ammunition.
The latest victim of “tanim-bala” was a 65-year-old woman with a tightly sealed shoulder bag bound for Singapore to watch her nephew play soccer.
After Malacañang downplayed the reported cases, President Benigno Aquino III himself ordered an investigation into the “tanim-bala” incidents and instructed Abaya to look into the matter amid growing public outcry.
Saying that the national government refused to acknowledge the issue at first, Cayetano compared the Palace’s response to that of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who offered legal aid to “laglag-bala” victims and threatened perpetrators that he would make them swallow bullets.
“Sa Davao City, nung nalaman nilang mayroong ganito, nagdagdag agad ng pulis, namigay ng leaflet, at ‘yung mayor mismo doon ang nagsabing ‘ako ang in charge dito. Kakasuhan natin ‘yan, papakain natin ang bala sa mga ‘naglalaglag-bala.’ So there was someone immediately in charge. Pero dito sa atin, parang ang nangyayari pa may denial pa. Ibig sabihin ayaw pang tanggapin ng gobyerno na may problema,” he said.
(In Davao City, when the authorities found out that there are such incidents, additional policemen were deployed, leaflets were handed out, and the mayor himself said: “I am in charge here. We will sue them, we will make these people who commit ‘laglag-bala’ eat the bullet.” So there was someone immediately in charge. However, here in our area, it seems like there is a denial that is happening. It means the government has refused to acknowledge at first that there is a problem.)
A confident Cayetano said the complaint may be a landmark case as it would instill a sense of command responsibility among government officials.
“This may be a landmark case kasi kapag ito ay binigyang-pansin ng Ombudsman and we’re confident na solid ‘yung batas, magkakaroon ngayon ng sense of command responsibility ang law enforcement units natin all over the country, ang mga heads of authorities. So kung gusto n’yo sa gobyerno, magtrabaho kayo. Kung ayaw n’yo sa gobyerno, mag-resign kayo, kasi kung hindi, kakasuhan kayo,” he said.
(This may be a landmark case because if the Ombudsman takes notice of this case and we’re confident that the law is solid, our law enforcement units all over the country will now have a sense of command responsibility, heads of authorities. So if you want in the government, you will work there. If you don’t want in the government, you will resign, because if not, you will be sued.)
Reported cases of “tanim-bala” caused fear and paranoia among passengers, with photos of them wrapping their bags in plastics going viral on social media.
Lawmakers also ordered an inquiry into the incidents and called for the sacking of airport authorities.
However, the PNP-Avsegroup on Monday maintained that it was possible for the scam to be carried out inside the airport, denying speculations that there was a syndicate behind it.
“Tanim-bala” has also attracted the attention of foreign media, reporting the recent cases hounding the Naia, which was once tagged as the world’s worst airport. RAM
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