SUPPORTERS of the Aquino administration accused the political opposition of planting bullets in the luggage of travelers at the airport to embarrass the government and to discredit the Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II.
Singer and Black and White Movement co-convenor Leah Navarro described the scam which has victimized tourists and overseas Filipino workers as a “project” to shame the Aquino administration.
“Whoever is behind this ‘tanim-bala’ project: remember, you don’t just shame the admin, you shame all Filipinos, including yourselves,” Navarro said in her Facebook account.
“And then there are those WW2 memorabilia collectors [smugglers?]. Could they be adding to a growing hysteria over laglag-bala?” she added.
Another administration supporter and actress Cynthia Patag said the growing scandal over an extortion syndicate at the airport was nothing but a “cheap trick” aimed at bringing down the ratings of President Benigno Aquino III and Roxas.
“Can’t you tell? Dagdag-bala is a demolition job by THE MALEVOLENT MINIONS ordered by their demonyo leaders to discredit the Aquino administration, ultimately the LP’s presidential candidate Mar Roxas. C’mon,” Patag wrote in her Facebook account.
But lawyer Jong de Guzman, whose sister fell victim to the scam, posted a rejoiner to Patag and Navarro.
“I do not know you, Ms. Cynthia Patag, but apparently we have mutual friends mostly from the LP [Liberal Party], including the President himself. I take exception to this statement implying that my sister, a victim of this so-called ‘laglag bala’ scheme [to me it’s plain robbery-extortion], is a mere pawn to discredit this administration. Big accusation. Where’s your evidence?”
“You do not know what she went through during and after that incident—to be threatened with imprisonment or to lose everything she worked for just to get the green card. How dare you! You do not know her. I do. So who’s the minion now?”
Patag drew flak from other Facebook users, who re-posted a screen grab of her and De Guzman’s Facebook walls.
De Guzman also challenged Navarro’s statement. “What project? All I know is that there are crimes going on at the airport and not much has been done to curb [them]. There need not be a political angle to it. You’re giving too much credit to your opponents. Stop finger-pointing,” he said.
But artist Rock Drilon, a cousin of Senate President Franklin Drilon, said politics is behind the “tanim-bala” scandal.
“Laglag-bala is a dirty op and politically motivated to embarrass the government and the ruling party/candidates,” Drilon wrote in his Facebook wall.
President Aquino has already ordered an investigation into the scam, which has been picked up by international news agencies such as the BBC and Time magazine.
Pictures of passengers with their bags wrapped in plastic—one even had a handwritten note which read: Mahal ko aking pamilya, Di ako tanga, Bagahe ko walang bala (I love my family, I am not stupid, my luggage has no bullet)—have gone viral on various social media platforms.
Over the weekend, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. played down the scam, saying the incidents were not that many.
“Let us put this in the right context. Several passengers use our airports, and there were only a few who were apprehended for carrying bullets. We are investigating all these incidents while giving due respect to the human and legal rights of all involved,” Coloma said.
On Sunday, a 65-year-old grandmother was apprehended at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 for allegedly carrying a live .9mm bullet inside her shoulder bag.
Incensed, Nimfa Fontamillas of Cavite shouted at members of the aviation security: “You people don’t just plant. You’re magicians, too!”