Senator Ralph Recto on Thursday proposed that the next administration should install a presidential action and complaint center at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to assist passengers victimized by the so-called “bullet-planting” extortion scheme.
Recto’s proposal came on the heels of the case of two septuagenarians who became the latest victim of the scam at the Naia Terminal 1.
Authorities detained and placed under investigation Salvacion and Esteban Cortabista who were allegedly caught carrying a live ammunition while they were about to board a flight to Los Angeles last Tuesday morning.
The couple were able to get past the initial x-ray scanning counter but they were prevented upon reaching the second and final checking at the departure area after members of the Office for Transportation Security found a bullet of a .38-caliber pistol inside their hand-carry bag.
Relatives of the couple claimed that some airport personnel demanded money amounting to P50,000 in exchange for their release and avoid flight delays.
But airport policemen said the couple initially admitted owning the live ammunition but when their relatives and members of the media arrived at the scene, they denied owning the prohibited item.
The couple was released for further investigation after several hours.
Since November, airport authorities apprehended more than 50 passengers carrying bullets in their bags at Naia Terminals 1, 2 and 3 amid the growing controversy over the alleged bullet-planting scheme involving some erring personnel.
Recto said the next administration should “plant a presidential action and complaint desk as a one-stop, on-the-spot troubleshooting center” for overseas Filipino workers and other travelers.
“You put up a Malacañang-attached office there and it will lead to better service and passenger care. It will also be a deterrent against scams,” Recto said.
With 36 million passengers using the four airport terminals annually, “it is a large constituency which can neither be ignored, nor denied of service, and one that deserves an office directly under the OP[Office of the President],” Recto said.
Recto said there is an existing Palace office—the Presidential Action Center—which has the mandate to establish an office such as “a detachment” at Naia and other international airports.
In its Citizen’s Charter, PACE describes “the OP [as in] the best position to serve as the command center” for requests for assistance and redress of grievances by the general public.
PACE is the “key frontline team that can effectively bridge and ensure delivery of services to the general public,” the agency claims in a statement linked to the OP website.
The low-key PACE holds office in one of the buildings near Malacañang, but Recto wants it to set up a satellite office in Naia and “for it to anchor a one-stop public assistance kiosk manned by government agencies.”
“The idea is to pool together all agencies which have something to do with OFWs and travel,” Recto said.