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Septuagenarian couple seek dismissal of bullet case

/ 06:35 PM May 11, 2016

THE septuagenarian couple who were the latest victims in the “tanim-bala” or bullet planting scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the criminal case filed against them.

During the preliminary investigation, Esteban Cortabista, 78, and wife Salvacion, 75, maintained that they were victims of the tanim-bala scheme perpetrated by airport personnel and the case against them for violation of Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act has no basis.

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They also identified the personnel responsible for the planting of the bullets inside their bag—wheelchair attendant Niño Namba and x-ray screeners Ferdinand Morales and Fatti Dame Go of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS).

The couple insisted that Namba, Morales and Go conspired to plant a bullet inside Salvacion’s handbag to extort money from her.

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After the bullet was discovered, the couple said Morales told them, “‘Mahina ang P50,000 dyan (P50,000 would be a small amount for that),’ clearly intimating that they should pay in order for Salvacion to be able to board the aircraft.”

“At that point, I looked at Ferdinand Morales, held my red belt bag and told him ‘one hundred twenty pesos lang ang pera ko (I only have P120 with me),” she recalled.

The couple said that during the incident last April 19, they noticed Morales obviously signaling to Go while only Namba held their bags for inspection.

The Cortabistas insisted that the bullet found in their bag was planted, adding that they passed through the initial security checkpoint twice without the bullet detected by airport authorities.

“We did not carry any bullet going to the NAIA Terminal 1 and we did not have any intention to bring one because we are aware of TV news reports about the tanim-bala controversy where innocent passengers are victimized,” they lamented.

The Cortabista’s statement was supported by an eyewitness, their niece Maria Fe Balagot.

Following the submission of the counter-affidavit, investigating officer Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva required the OTS to submit its reply to the denial of the respondents.

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