Friends under fire

Perhaps airport manager Jose Angel Honrado never really comprehended what his job entailed, from the beginning. After all, he did not have to do much to deserve it—it sufficed that he was a loyal aide of the President’s late mother and a part of Mr. Benigno Aquino III’s campaign team.  

That, and being family.

All this was revealed in Thursday’s Senate hearing of the bullet-planting extortion scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.  Asked what his job was, Honrado said it was to “ensure the smooth flow at the airport.”

Thus, to his mind, Honrado until now does not believe that he carries any responsibility whatsoever for the ingenuity of baggage inspectors who are accused of planting bullets on travelers’ bags so they could extort money from them.

During Thursday’s hearing, overseas Filipino worker Gloria Ortinez relayed her story. On her way to return to her job in Hong Kong, she was stopped because a bullet was found among her things. Possession of bullets is a criminal act in the Philippines. 

The 59-year-old domestic was detained for two days at the airport before undergoing an inquest at the Pasay City prosecutor’s office. Charges against her were later dismissed. 

Four other victims of the scam told their stories during the hearing; each tale revealed a common pattern—or modus. 

Honrado, however, said it was up to the police to go after the erring airport employees, some of whom had already been relieved from their post pending further action. 

Honrado’s boss, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, was equally clueless during the hearing. This scam is only the latest among transportation and communication woes that have blown up during his watch.

In all this, the Palace has continued protecting Honrado and Abaya, with spokesmen saying that they still enjoyed the President’s confidence. 

His confidence, maybe, but not ours. Malacañang’s style is to wait out this controversy until the next big issue comes along.  Alas, it is not far-fetched that the next scandals would come from these same officials who coast along just because they know the President has their back, whatever happens.

Topics: Friends under fire

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