Justice Releases 12 ‘Bala’ Suspects
White said he and his parents arrived in Manila Sept. 17 to look for a lot in Palawan province where they could build a church for their congregation. But their connecting flight to Palawan was canceled, forcing them to book another flight at Terminal 4 the following day.
With the widening scandal over the extortion scheme, four bag inspectors and X-ray screeners at the Naia were suspended following complaints that they extorted money from passengers by allegedly putting bullets in their luggage. The four, all personnel of the OTS, were suspended but were not charged.
The OTS, which is under the DoTC, is responsible for the security of the transportation systems of the country, including civil aviation.
Screening inspectors at Naia are directly accountable to the OTS rather than the Manila International Airport Authority. Two more arrests were made at the airport Monday, including a 71-year-old grandmother meeting a relative from Dubai at the lobby of the Naia Terminal 3. Police held Antonina Agustin of Nueva Ecija for questioning for carrying live bullets that were detected by an X-ray scan. Agustin said the 9mm and .38 bullets found in her shoulder bag were given to her by her doctor years ago to protect her from sickness.
A passenger bound for Bacolod was also held at Terminal 3 for carrying a cal .45 bullet that was detected at the initial X-ray scan.
Police identified the passenger as Edina Sanchez, 35, who was carrying her newborn when stopped by OTS screeners who detected a bullet in her baby stroller. Also on Monday, an administration lawmaker condemned attempts by the Manila International Airport Authority to suppress media covering the airport in the wake of the tanim-bala scandal. Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said airport reporters were complaining about the decision of MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado to restrict airport reporters from accessing Naia Terminal 3 in what they saw as a move to stop media from reporting about the extortion racket. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, meanwhile, dismissed calls for Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya to resign over the airport scandal and his failure to improve service on Metro Manila’s city trains. “It is counter-productive and foolish to remove Secretary Abaya from office. He is right now on top of major multi-billion peso infrastructure projects, like the new skyways to link the North and South Expressways to decongest Metro Manila traffic,” Albano said. “With about eight months before the Aquino government steps down next year, it is foolish and totally unproductive to seek the ouster or resignation of Secretary Abaya just to pander to the misguided [demands] of a few, especially politicians running for public office who are exploiting the issue for their own selfish ends,” Albano said. With Rey E. Requejo