Bam Aquino, Leni Robredo file bills vs 'bullet-planting' scam
MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to protect passengers falling victim to the alleged "laglag-bala" or bullet-planting scam at the Philippines' premier airport, Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV has filed a bill that seeks to decriminalize the acquisition, possession, and carriage of 3 bullets or less in the country.
Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo filed the counterpart measure in the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill No. 3000 or the Iwas Tanim-Bala bill comes after several cases have been reported in recent weeks, involving the "discovery" of one or two bullets in the luggage of unsuspecting passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The incidents are widely believed to be a scam, with airport security personnel planting the bullets so they could extort money from passengers. The issue has angered the public and even drawn international attention. (READ: How to curb 'laglag-bala' modus and airport extortion)
“Activities that jeopardize the safety and security of the public are clearly unacceptable. We must build a secure, orderly, and just nation for our tourists, foreign and local investors, and most importantly, our own citizens,” Aquino said in his explanatory note to SB 3000, filed on Tuesday, November 3.
“Clearly, a scam that is unsupported of our efforts to raise government service standards for the Filipino people should be stopped immediately. As investigations have been ordered, it is also imperative to look at policy proposals and interventions that fully address the issue,” he added.
Protect right to free travel
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Robredo said the alleged scam damages the reputation of the Philippines, especially among foreign tourists. One of the reported victims was American missionary Lane Michael White, who spent 6 days at the NAIA Terminal 1 police aviation facility after a bullet was allegedly found in his luggage.
White claimed NAIA personnel attempted to extort P30,000 from him. He was able to go free after posting P40,000 bail. (TIMELINE: Recent cases of alleged bullet scam at NAIA)
"Further occurrences of the tanim bala scam will severely hamper our efforts to bolster tourism since NAIA is the gateway to the country," said Robredo, in filing House Bill 6245.
At least 40 personnel from the Office for Transportation Security are also under investigation for various complaints. – Katerina Francisco/Rappler.com