Press Release
October 29, 2015

'Laglag bala' modus part of a well-oiled operation--Nancy
Senator calls for immediate Senate probe

Senator Nancy Binay denounced the continuing reported incidents of alleged extortion modus operandi saying that the "laglag bala" or "tanim-bala" could be part of a well-oiled operation that can be traced as far back as 10 years ago.

Binay said that there have been reports since 2005 that these kind of modus are rampant in the three major terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

"Nakakabahala na hindi tumiitigil ang patuloy na pananamatala sa mga turista, sa ating mga balikbayan, at lalong-lalo na sa ating mga OFWs. These incidents have been reported to our authorities before as far back as 2005 but why are these abuses still happening?" Senator Binay asked.

Binay filed a resolution urging her colleagues in the Senate to immediately look into the alleged planting of ammunition in the luggage of unsuspecting incoming and outgoing airline passengers entering or leaving the country. After being caught, the victims claimed that airport security personnel apparently extorted money before they can be cleared to travel.

"Nabansagan na ang NAIA bilang isa sa 'worst airports' sa buong mundo. Dahil sa balita ng laglag bala, siguradong lalong mapapasama ang reputasyon ng ating international airport," the lady senator added.

Over the past few weeks, reported incidents of the modus operandi escalated as a number of victims appeared on the media, denying all claims of their infractions and insisting that they did not own the planted bullets.

"Papalapit na po ang holiday season at marami sa ating mga kababayan ang magbabakasyon ngayong Pasko. Please warn your friends and families to be mindful and be extra careful with their luggage so as not be victimized. Don't give these unscrupulous people the opportunity to harass and take advantage of you," warned Binay.

Personnel of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS), an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), together with the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP), are the authorities held responsible for the alleged extortion modus operandi.

"I am all for the strict implementation of security checks and protocols at our airports. However, given the growing distrust and frustration regarding the situation, I urge our airport authorities to be more discerning in taking action especially when our balikbayans and OFWs are concerned," the senator said.

"Sa pagkakataong ito, hindi na nakakatulong ang pagiging sobrang higpit. Kailangang pag-aralang maigi ng ating mga security personnel ang sitwasyon at ang mga akusado bago kasuhan ang mga nakitaan ng bala sa kanilang bagahe," the lady senator added.

Binay stressed that the allegations can cause irreversible consequences to those accused of possession of illegal ammunition.

For OFWs, the lady senator said that the situation can seriously compromise their employment abroad. Aside from prolonging their stay in the country, the victims are required to defend themselves before the courts, with the possibility of facing jail time if convicted.

"Kahit na mapatunayan ng korte na hindi sila liable, talagang apektado na ang kanilang buhay at trabaho. Ang mahirap dito para sa ating mga OFW, baka pagbalik nila sa kanilang mgaemployer sa ibang bansa, hindi na sila tanggapin," Binay noted.

"We are proud that we are known for our hospitality. This is why we have to be steadfast in eradicating illicit practices involving our transportation institutions as are airports serve as a major gateway to the country. How we welcome or bid our visitors farewell reflects how we value their rights and opinion of the Philippines," the lady senator said.

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