PAO gets 12 ‘tanim-bala’ suspects freed
THE PUBLIC Attorney’s Office (PAO) under the Department of Justice has secured the release of 12 alleged “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) suspects who had been charged by the police after bullets were found in their bags at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta identified four of the suspects released from police custody over the weekend as Rufina Cruz of Angeles City, Pampanga; Mildred Bitog of Bacolod City; Ma. Josephin Rabano of Batangas City, and Shine Enola of Quezon City.
Earlier released through the efforts of the PAO were Melody Valdez of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan; Marlou Espanola of Bacolod City; Rowena Otic of Nueva Ecija; Milagros Cadiente of Pasay City; Rey Salado of Cagayan de Oro City; Ryan Rosales of San Mateo, Rizal; Santiago Peñaflorida of Iloilo City, and Gloria Ortinez of Paoay, Ilocos Norte.
According to Acosta, the inquest prosecutors of Pasay released Cruz, Bitog, Rabano and Enola “for further investigation” because the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group operatives who arrested them failed to attach ballistic reports to the complaints.
The inquest prosecutors noted that under Republic Act No. 10591, or the 2013 Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, ammunition is defined as “a complete unfired unit consisting of a bullet, gunpowder, cartridge case and primer or loaded shell for use in any firearm.”
“In order to determine if the ammunition recovered from respondent is such, there is a need to submit the same to the proper government agency for ballistic examination. Absent the ballistic findings, respondent cannot be charged in court for violation of RA 10591,” prosecutor Josefina Muego ruled in the case of Enola.
The cases against the suspects, however, may be reinstated via preliminary investigation should the police obtain the required ballistic reports.
A .45-cal. bullet was found in the side pocket of Enola’s sling bag by the X-ray operator when Enola arrived accompanying a passenger at Naia Terminal 3 last week.
Meanwhile, former labor undersecretary and migrant workers advocate Susan Ople called on the DOJ to completely withdraw the illegal possession of ammunition case filed against Ortinez so she could return to her job as a household service worker in Hong Kong.
“Nanay Gloria is very scared to set foot in our airport. But she has no choice because if she stays here any longer, her employer who is a single mom might change her mind about taking her back. We wish there would be no trouble when Nanay Gloria leaves for Hong Kong,” she said.
As this developed, two men were separately arrested at the Manila north harbor terminal over the weekend for alleged illegal possession of live bullets.
Luisito Solitario, 45, and Dean Daryl Ingcong, 21, are detained at the Philippine Ports Authority office at Pier 8 while awaiting the resolution of their cases filed in the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office.
Solitario, a painter by profession, was arrested at the passenger terminal complex at Pier 4 about 6 a.m. on Sunday.
He was bound for Cebu when X-ray operator Rodolfo Bade Jr. allegedly saw the silhouette of a bullet in his duffel bag.
In his sworn affidavit, Bade said Solitario personally took his bag for the X-ray examination.
When the bag was checked in front of the port police, a live 9-mm bullet was found.
This happened less than 24 hours after a live .38-cal. bullet was found in Ingcong’s bag.
Ingcong, a security guard, allegedly “did not answer” when X-ray operator Richard Cayme told him there was a bullet in his bag.
“Mr. Cayme alleged that he asked the passengers at the X-ray screening who the owner of the bag was and… Ingcong approached him and claimed ownership of the bag. Mr. Cayme then told him ‘may bala yan’ (there’s a bullet) but the suspect didn’t reply,” Chief Insp. Dan Alano said in his affidavit of apprehension and complaint.
When Cayme unzipped the right side pocket of Ingcong’s bag, they saw a holster, handcuff holder, belt keeper, duty belt, rosary and ammunition holder with one .38-cal. live bullet.
Meanwhile, the labor committee chair of the House of Representatives Monday denounced alleged attempts by the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) to suppress media coverage of the bullet-planting racket.
Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles cited complaints by airport reporters about the new restrictions to their access at naia Terminal 3 purportedly on orders of Miaa General Manager Jose Angel Honrado.
The Naia Press Corps led by broadcaster Raoul Esperas “is up in arms against this new restriction.
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