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Palace: Gov’t resolved to fix ‘tanim-bala’ incidents

/ 06:18 PM November 03, 2015
SEALED BAGGAGE Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with their baggage wait in line to check in at Naia Terminal 1. The OFWs have resorted to wrapping their luggage in plastic to guard against the “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scam. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

Travelers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 have resorted to wrapping their luggage in plastic to guard against “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scammers. GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

Amid growing public outcry, Malacañang Palace has reiterated that the government is doing its part to resolve the reported incidents of the alleged “tanim-bala” racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) which victimizes airline passengers.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Tuesday said that in a few days, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) would “paint the entire picture” for the public, including data, processes, and measures to be undertaken by the government regarding the extortion scam.

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“DOTC will inform the public of the measures that will be undertaken. Like I said, the President has given instructions and has refined the efforts that are being undertaken. So, at some point, and hopefully within this week, DOTC will share to the public the measures that will be taken,” Lacierda told reporters in a press briefing.

“Some of the measures are being done already, for instance, we are installing—as Secretary Jun Abaya has mentioned—additional CCTVs in those areas. But permit me to say lang na kung ano po ang dapat—ano ang gagawin po, DOTC na po ang maghahayag po lahat no’n,” he added.

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In the alleged extortion racket, airport security officials supposedly insert bullets in the luggage of passengers and ask them for money in exchange for dropping charges of illegal possession of ammunition.

After Malacañang downplayed the reported cases, President Benigno Aquino III himself ordered an investigation into the “tanim-bala” incidents and instructed Transportation Secretary Abaya to look into the matter amid growing public criticism.

Lawmakers have also ordered an inquiry into the incidents and called for the sacking of airport authorities, particularly Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado.

As to allegations that Malacañang was supposedly “soft” in its treatment of resignation calls to airport executives, Lacierda said it was important to properly identify the problem.

“The important thing is let’s identify correctly the problem and the attitude of … We have to look into all the data that should be looked into and DOTC is now looking into those data. And like I said yesterday, the correct identification of the problem leads to the correct identification of the solution. It’s an approach where we need to look at everything and I understand that there are concerns to immediately act on certain things,” he said.

The Palace is also mum on the administrative complaint filed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano against Abaya, Honrado, and two others for supposed neglect of duty over the “tanim-bala” racket, as well as on the calls of Catholic bishops to conduct a lifestyle check among airport security personnel who inspect luggages.

“DOTC will be responding to all these new cases filed by, I understand, Sen. Alan Cayetano. Hayaan na lang po natin ang DOTC at ang mga officials na sagutin po lahat ito,” Lacierda said.

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“I don’t want to preempt DOTC. Ayoko na lang pangunahan ang DOTC pero let’s just wait for them,” he added.

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.

But the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group 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. Yuji Vincent Gonzales/RC

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TAGS: bullet scam, Edwin Lacierda, Jun Abaya, NAIA, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, tanim bala
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