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PNP says syndicate unlikely behind bullet scam

A passenger's luggage protected by tape with a warning for alleged bullet-planting culprits at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal on Nov. 2, 2015. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup) on Monday said it is unlikely that a syndicate is involved in the alleged bullet-planting, or "laglag-bala," incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

In a press briefing, Police Superintendent Jeanne Panisan, public information Officer of PNP-Avsegroup, said authorities have not caught anyone in the act of placing bullets in passengers' bags inside the airport.

"Wala po kaming nakita na may nagtanim ng bala," Panisan said.

Panisan said only passengers are allowed to touch their baggage, while some hire porters to help them lift their bags.

She clarified, however, that is it the Office of Transport Security, not the PNP, that is in charge of baggage screening procedures.

She said the number of apprehensions on ammunition jumped from 12 in 2014 to 30 from January to November 1 this year.

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PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said the police are open to conducting an investigation into the incidents.

"We welcome investigation. We want the truth to come out," Mayor said.

Panisan, meanwhile, advised the public to stop carrying bullets to prevent getting into trouble. She said some Filipinos still carry bullets as amulets believed to be good luck charms or "agimat."

"Malalim ang paniniwala ng mga Pilipino sa mga amulet o agimat," Panisan said.

"Make sure po na pag umalis tayo 'wag na po tayong magtake chances na 'hindi, agimat lang 'to' kasi pwede pong ma-confiscate ito, makakasuhan po kayo at mas malaki po ang magiging epekto kung sa ibang bansa po kayo maiintercept," she advised.

Mayor, on the other hand, reiterated that mere possession of bullets is a violation of Republic Act 10591.

"We don't want innocents to be incarcerated abroad," Mayor said.

Several lawmakers already urged the government to conduct a probe into the bullet-planting incidents. Malacanang also vowed to order an investigation on the alleged cases.

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