SENATOR Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Thursday that Malacañang should immediately fire Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Honrado for allowing an extortion syndicate to operate on his turf with impunity.
Calls for resignation of Honrado snowballed following the public outcry against incidents of alleged “tanim bala” or the intentional planting of bullets into luggage of passengers, particularly overseas Filipino workers and the elderly to extort money from them.
Marcos said that based on the principle of command responsibility Honrado is clearly accountable for the “tanim bala” extortion racket that persisted despite the focus of media attention and the public outcry against it.
“He should be fired immediately, he’s clearly incompetent. He should never have been put in that job in the first place,” Marcos told the Senate media during the weekly media forum “Kapihan sa Senado.”
In fact, Marcos said that if it were up to him he would never even appoint Honrado as MIAA general manager.
“Why would you put him there when he had no experience? He doesn’t even know the job,” Marcos said.
The Senator said he believed the “tanim-bala” scam could be traced to the penchant of Malacanang to appoint people not based on merit and good qualifications but solely based on their connections with people in power.
“The job of running an airport is very specialized, especially if you are running the main gateway to the Philippines,” Marcos said.
A spokesman for President Benigno Aquino III hit back at Marcos.
“Unlike Senator Bongbong Marcos who continues to deny the abuses of martial law, corruption, impunity and human rights violations that occurred under the Marcos regime of which he was a part as a government official, the President recognizes that there is a problem,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a text message to the Malacañang Press Corps.
“The administration is addressing this issue and taking concrete steps so that the travelers will have peace of mind and no passenger will be subjected to unfair prosecution,” Lacierda added.
Marcos earlier slammed Aquino for defending Honrado.
“How can you possibly defend somebody who has allowed this kind of victimization of our overseas Filipino workers to carry on? In the face of public scrutiny, exposure, scandal and clear violations of trust and the law, he is still being defended?” Marcos said.
Marcos said by defending the MIAA and its concerned officers, the Palace is just encouraging unscrupulous individuals behind the scam to go on with their racket.
“The [administration] is saying the problem is that the OFWs are not securing their bags. But the problem is not in the OFWs but in the organization that allows the tanim-bala to carry on even when it is reported in the press. This just breeds impunity,” he said.
Also on Thursday, senatorial aspirant and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez scored the lack of compassion and sensitivity of Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who said Wednesday the “tanim-bala” incidents were blown out of proportion.
“This administration is so insensitve. Instead of reassuring our fellow Filipinos who frequently pass through our airports, what Secretary Abaya did was to downplay the incidents of “tanim-bala” and say to media that it was blown out of proportion,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez had earlier challenged Honrado to explain the reported sudden surge of alleged “tanim- bala” or bullet planting cases this year in all terminals of the Naia.
“Honrado owes the public an explanation on the sudden spike of cases of alleged bullet planting in 2015 compared to last year. What has his leadership been doing despite serious allegations that some of his men are allegedly involved in this activity victimizing OFWs and tourists?” Romualdez said.
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