Roxas, Robredo not on the same page on ‘tanim-bala scam’
CAUAYAN, Isabela—Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Mar Roxas and his running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, are not on the same page on the “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scam at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
Reacting to mounting calls in Congress to remove or lower penalties imposed on passengers found to have bullets in their luggage, the former interior secretary appealed for calm, saying a knee-jerk reaction was not the solution.
“Bullets are contraband everywhere in the world, especially in the time of antiterrorism, especially live ones,” Roxas told reporters here, as he sought the support of local leaders.
“We see that the government is right to guard against and prevent the entry of contraband because we want to protect our people,” he said.
“Think about it. If we loosen our policies and we let passengers fly with bullets in their luggage to other countries, where they would face even stiffer penalties. Our people will not find an easy way out of that,” Roxas said.
But as it happened, Robredo was one of the lawmakers who filed measures in Congress to decriminalize mere possession of bullets (in her version, not more than three) in hopes of deterring perpetrators of the scam.
She filed House Bill
No. 6245, or the “Iwas Tanim Bala Bill,” aiming to put an end to the modus operandi and safeguarding passengers at Naia from harassment and extortion.
“Let’s stop this scam and ensure the safety and well-being of the passengers in Naia,” she said in a statement.
Right to travel freely
Robredo said the scam “abridges our constitutionally guaranteed right to freely travel by preventing passengers from catching their flights and damages the reputation of the Philippines since several of the victims have been foreign tourists who were in the country for their vacation.”
Roxas, a former transportation secretary, did not give a clear answer when asked who should take responsibility for the damage caused by reports of the scam on the country’s image as an international destination.
Instead, he said this should be seen in the context of who was bringing in the contraband.
Roxas said the country might jeopardize its Category 1 status under the US Federal Aviation Administration, which allowed the country’s flag carriers more flights to the United States, as well as lose standing with the International Civil Aviation Organization. Both agencies monitor safety standards in international aviation industries.
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