Press Release
November 3, 2015

Cayetano leads filing of complaint vs gov't & airport officials over 'tanim bala' racket

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday, November 3, led the filing of a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman against airport officials and heads of concerned government agencies over the "Tanim-Bala" modus victimizing departing and arriving passengers at the country's international airports, particularly at NAIA 1 and 2.

Cayetano, who filed the case along with Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Chairperson Dante Jimenez and Network of Independent Travel Agents (NITAS) Chairperson Robert Lim Joseph, expressed alarm over the spate of media reports involving airport personnel allegedly planting bullets inside luggage of unsuspecting passengers in an attempt to extort money from them.

"What concerns me most is that this scam has reportedly been going on for years," the senator stressed, citing the case of Journalist Vito Barcelo who claimed to be a victim of the "tanim-bala" syndicate seven years ago. "It's time for real change. Kailangan dito, matapang na solusyon, mabilis na aksyon," he added.

Cayetano lamented that since tanim-bala was reported in media, there have been "no thorough, proactive, and preventive measures that were undertaken by concerned government and airport officials."

"The heart of the cause of action of this complaint is the gross inaction of the respondents, even amidst knowledge of the crime or offense of their subordinates or lapses within their jurisdiction," the complaint read.

The complainants cited Executive Order No. 226, or the 'Institutionalization of the Doctrine of Command Responsibility in all Government Offices, Particularly at all Levels of Command in the Philippine National Police and all Government Agencies,' which states that "government official(s) or supervisor(s)... of any law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for 'Neglect of Duty' under the doctrine of "command responsibility" if (they) have knowledge (of an) offense... committed by their subordinates... and, despite such knowledge, did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its commission."

The EO also states that a government official is presumed to have knowledge of the commission of irregularities "when the irregularities or illegal acts have been repeatedly or regularly committed within his area of responsibility," as in the case of the "tanim-bala" incidents.

Cayetano and his fellow complainants asked that preventive suspension order be issued against Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General manager Jose Angel Hornado, Office for Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator Roland Recomono, and PNP Director Pablo Francisco Balagtas

And if proven that the officials were negligent, the complainants asked the Ombudsman to order the respondents under the principle of command responsibility.

"If our officials cannot solve these issues fast and ensure the safety and well being of the people they were sworn to protect, then I see no point in making them remain in office. They should be dismissed and removed from their posts," Cayetano asserted.

"Grabe na ang pahirap sa mga tao, lalong lalo na sa mga OFWs natin na tinuturing nating bagong bayani. Tunay na pagbabago ang hinihingi nila, hindi panibagong kalbaryo," he noted.

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