Press Release
October 30, 2015


Responding to an online petition signed by some 12,000 netizens, Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Friday urged her colleagues to investigate the "laglag-bala" scandal at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which victimizes overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Santiago has filed Senate Resolution No. 1635 amid reports that airport security personnel are involved in an extortion scam wherein bullets are planted in the luggage of passengers, who are later asked huge amounts of cash under threat of lawsuit.

"The reports highlight how corruption defeats the purpose of law enforcement. Second, they raise a legitimate question on the implementation of the law on the illegal possession of ammunition. Finally, they underline inaction on the part of government," the senator said.

The media has so far reported six cases using the modus operandi. The latest victims are Gloria Orrinez, an OFW bound for Hong Kong, and Japanese national Kazunobu Sakamoto, who were both arrested on October 25. Only Sakamoto was able to post bail for P80,000.

"The perpetrators of the alleged scam are brazen, perhaps because they know they will not be punished. We must prove them wrong," Santiago said in response to the signature campaign on online petition platform

The petition was launched by Ednalyn Purugganan, an OFW in Hong Kong. "Lahat kami ang pinakaasam-asam ang makauwi sa Pilipinas kahit panandalian lang.Makakauwi pa ba kami nang walang takot na baka sa kulungan ang bagsak namin?" Purugganan said in her open letter.

Santiago condemned how the extortion scam targets OFWs who see airports as their connection to home. "Wrongly accusing OFWs of a crime and forcing them to pay huge amounts of cash is not the way to repay those whom we call our modern-day heroes," the senator said.

She added that the scandal might impact Philippine tourism, a major job-generating industry, by sowing fear among foreigners using Philippine airports and eroding public trust in law enforcers.

In her resolution, Santiago said the Senate should consider creating a task force that will investigate alleged illicit activity of state agents, recommend sanctions against those involved, and put in place mechanisms that will deter similar schemes.

"We in Congress must also ensure that Republic Act No. 10591, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Act, is, on the one hand, properly implemented and, on the other, not abused by enforcers of the law," the senator added.

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