In defense of ‘bullet-carrier,’ PAO sues 3 at Naia
THE PUBLIC Attorney’s Office (PAO) on Tuesday filed criminal charges against two bag inspectors and an attendant at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) who were allegedly behind a “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scheme that victimized an elderly woman last month.
PAO chief Persida Acosta acted on behalf of Salvacion Cortabista, 75, and her husband Esteban, 78, in suing Office of Transportation Security employees Ferdinand Morales and Fatti Dame Go, and wheelchair attendant Nino Namba, for violation of the Firearms and Ammunition Code, robbery with intimidation, and unjust vexation.
The complaints were filed in the Pasay City prosecutor’s office. Acosta later accompanied Cortabista to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila for the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by aviation security police against Cortabista for illegal possession of ammunition.
“We wish this tanim-bala scheme will end once and for all so that our travelers will be at peace. Those who are caught with bullets without intent to possess should be exonerated,” Acosta told reporters.
According to Cortabista and her husband, it was Namba who most likely planted the bullets found in her bag because only he had access to it. The couple and their daughter Maria Fe were scheduled to board a flight the United States on April 19.
Cortabista’s bag cleared the first security inspection but they were put on hold in the final screening, when the couple were asked to open Cortabista’s bag and found bullets inside a pocket.
Cortabista said she heard Morales saying “P50,000 will not be enough to fix your situation,” while making signals to Go. The couple also recalled seeing their daughter gesturing to Morales, Go and aviation policemen that she had no money. Only Maria Fe ended up taking the flight.
In her manifestation at the DOJ, Acosta said there was no evidence to pin down Cortabista. The law, she added, defines ammunition as “a complete unfixed unit consisting of a bullet, gunpowder, cartridge case and primer or loaded shell for use in any firearm.”
“The law clearly lays down the intention, or ‘animus,’ or possession of a bullet to be punishable. Mere possession is not punishable, the phrase ‘for use in any firearm’ at the end of said definition of ammunition is what makes it punishable,” she said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.