Transport officials on Thursday said that they won’t be arresting passengers caught carrying bullets inside their luggage and instead allow them to pass through the country’s airports, a move that put an end to the “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scam.
“The new policy is that if passengers will be caught carrying bullets, we would just confiscate them and let the passengers pass,” Transportation Undersecretary for Air Operations Bobby Lim said Thursday in an interview over radio dzMM.
Senior Superintendent Mao Aplasca, the new director of the police Aviation Security Group, meanwhile, said that President Rodrigo Duterte himself ordered the new policy to just profile the passenger “to clear them of links to any terrorist or criminal group, and of criminal intention in carrying the bullet.”
This is made to ensure that airport passengers will no longer be harassed or subjected to extortion by unscrupulous airport personnel.
“Laglag-bala modus operandi is a thing of the past and we assure the public that they no longer have to worry that they will miss their flight or get arrested at our airports for possession of an ammunition,” Aplasca said in a separate interview.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered an end to extortion at the country’s premier airport.
“If we do not find a hint that they are part of criminal or terrorist elements, we will release them. Anyway, they can be traceable based on documents they have,” Aplasca said.
Airport authorities will profile all incidents and choose those that will be filed in courts, he said.
“Our primary job here is to provide assistance and protect the public. We are not here to find fault or prosecute,” Aplasca said.
The director-general, however, advised the public to remain vigilant and proactive in checking their luggage.
The “tanim-bala” scam allegedly involved airport personnel who planted bullets on unsuspecting passengers.
Former Transportation secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya had denied the existence of the “tanim bala” scam, saying that there is no syndicate running the country’s main gateway—the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and that the entire business has been “blown out of proportion.”