Manila prosecutor orders release of bullet-planting victim at seaport
MANILA, Philippines – The Manila prosecutor's office has ordered the release of a passenger caught at the Manila seaport for allegedly carrying a live bullet in his luggage.
In a two-page resolution, Manila City Prosecutor Edward Togonon ordered the release of Luisito Solitario, who was arrested as he was about to board a boat after X-ray screening showed a bullet in his bag.
“There is a need to subject the recovered bullet to ballistic examination and/or fingerprint lifting to determine its real source and/or owner. Without that, evidence would be insufficient to indict suspect/respondent,” the ruling read.
Togonon cited the similarity of Solitario's case with other reported cases of passengers being apprehended for carrying bullets, in what is now known as the alleged tanim-bala or bullet-planting scam.
Earlier this week, Pasay prosecutors ordered the release of 12 individuals arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for possessing bullets in their luggage.
Those ordered released were Rufina Cruz, Melody Valdez, Marlou Espanola, Rowena Otic, Milagros Cadiente, Mildred Botog, Ma. Josephine Rabano, Shine Enola, Rey Salado, Ryan Rosales, Santiago Cabrera, and Gloria Ortinez.
Meanwhile, charges against 72-year-old Antonina Agustin have been dismissed for lack of probable cause.
Agustin was apprehended in NAIA for bringing 9mm and .38-caliber bullets in her luggage to serve as amulets.
Prosecutors accepted her defense and cited lack of criminal intent.
The apprehended passengers are believed to be victims of the scam, where airport security personnel allegedly drop bullets in the bags of unsuspecting passengers in an attempt to extort money from them. (TIMELINE: Recent cases of alleged bullet scam at NAIA)
With the growing public outcry over the bullet-planting cases, the government has vowed to conduct investigations, suspend erring airport personnel, and implement new security measures to curb the supposed scheme. – Rappler.com