Airport personnel cleared of ‘tanim-bala’
The bullet found in the luggage of American missionary Lane Michael White was planted by someone other than the airport personnel, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
In its 11-page resolution, the DOJ said there was not enough evidence to file a case for violation of Republic Act 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act specifically Liability for Planting Evidence, against Office of Transportation Security (OTS) personnel Marvin Garcia and Maria Cena;
– A case of robbery/extortion against Chief Inspector Adriano Junio, Senior Police Officer 4 Ramon Bernardo and Senior Police Officer Rolando Clarin; and
– A case of violation of Republic Act 7438, or An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation and Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers, and violation of the Anti-Graft Law against Junio Bernardo, Clarin and Senior Police Officer 2 Romy Navarro.
The DOJ said while they believe that White was wronged when he was made to face an offense that he did not commit, “we cannot say with certainty that it was respondents Cena and Garcia who inserted or place the ammunition inside complainant’s luggage.”
“There is a high probability that the ammunition was planted by another person, a stranger to this case,” the DOJ resolution stated.
White’s luggage passed airport security a day before the bullet was discovered. His original flight was cancelled. Cebu Pacific brought them to Executive Plaza Hotel for an overnight stay until the next day’s flight. His luggage was left with the valet.
“The likelihood that the ammunition was planted during such time when the luggage was unattended is not remote,” the DOJ said.
A CCTV footage showed that from 10:52:35 to 10:52:43, White was searching the outer pocket of his luggage but nothing was found.
“We could not say with certainty that the ammunition was planted after such time by respondents Cena and Garcia,” the DOJ said.
As to respondents Clarin, Junio, Bernardo, and Navarro, the DOJ noted that there was no proof that they extorted money from White. In their counter-affidavits, they pointed out that they merely informed White of the fine, provided by law, that he was to to pay for violating it.
“We do not find probable cause to respondents for all the cases filed against them,” the DOJ stated in the resolution written by Associate Prosecution Attorney (APA) II Honey Rose E. Delgado.
White, an American missionary, claimed to have fallen victim to the bullet-planting modus upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 (NAIA 4) on September 17, 2015. His camp alleged that respondent airport officers tried to extort P30,000 for the non-filing of charges.
White was already cleared by the Pasay City Regional Trial Court. CDG/rga
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