Press Release
September 26, 2015

Planting ammo carries life in jail penalty, time for Senate to probe many airport scams

The 2013 Firearms Law says that if you are a public official and you plant a bullet in the person or property of an individual for the purpose of framing him up, you go to jail for life. Isang bala lang, hindi ka na sisikatan ng araw sa tagal mo sa bilangguan.

Section 38 of Republic Act 10591 states:

"The penalty of prison mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any person who shall wilfully and maliciously insert, place, and/or attach, directly or indirectly, through any overt or covert act, any firearm, or ammunition, or parts thereof in the person, house, effects, or in the immediate vicinity of an innocent individual for the purpose of implicating or incriminating the person, or imputing the commission of any violation of the provisions of this Act to said individual. If the person found guilty under this paragraph is a public officer or employee, such person shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua."

So this should be slapped on the airport personnel who inserted a bullet in the baggage of the American missionary and the Filipino balikbayan, if, after an investigation would yield the finding that there is reason to believe that they had indeed committed the offense.

The investigation should proceed as fast as possible so that the parties will have their day in court. There might be congestion above the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) airspace, but on the ground, the caseload of complaints against erring airport personnel is not clogged.

On Monday, through a resolution, I will seek an official Senate probe into the matter and into other schemes and scams that defraud, swindle, or deceive our airline passengers.

Social media is awash with horror tales of passengers who have been duped by criminals and con artists in NAIA, and apparently the "tanim bala" modus operandi is but one of them.

There's the pilferage of baggage, the forced shepherding of passengers into unaccredited taxis, the illegal search on travellers for suspicion of carrying extra cash, among others.

Although such incidents are far from being the norm, and are committed or countenanced by a few government employees, the same should still be investigated as they give the whole government a black eye.

A Senate investigation is also needed because apparently the agencies operating in NAIA have failed to curb the abuses on their own. There is no working system that is "guarding the guards."

A functioning internal affairs system would have served as a tripwire that would have caught these problems early on and reprimands would have been meted out.

Compounding the situation is the alphabet soup of government agencies operating inside NAIA, functioning as independent republics, with no superagency conducting an oversight.

Authorities could have invited other agencies like the NBI to put under surveillance airport personnel involved in shenanigans, thereby nipping the practice in the bud, but apparently this was not done.

Thirty-one million passengers used NAIA last year. With this volume, it is a revenue earner for the government.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) posted gross revenues of P8.7 billion in 2013, and net profit before tax of P3.9 billion.

The Office of Transportation Security had an end of 2014 balance of P1.4 billion from the Aviation Security Fee collected from each passenger. This year, it is expected to earn P627 million from this.

Philippine Tourism Authority will earn P5.1 billion from Travel Tax this year, mostly from NAIA outbound passengers.

Even the bulk of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines' (CAAP) projected P5.4 billion gross income this year would come from NAIA operations.

With all these combined amounts, government cannot plead poverty in ridding NAIA and other major airports of tricksters--whether in uniform or not.

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