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Tanim-bala? Senior couple held at NAIA

NAIA personnel barred an elderly couple from boarding a US-bound flight late Tuesday afternoon after the Office for Transport Security (OTS) reported finding a live .38-caliber bullet in one of their bags at the departure area of Terminal 1. RUDY SANTOS, file

MANILA, Philippines – Is bullet-planting back at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport?

NAIA personnel barred an elderly couple from boarding a US-bound flight late Tuesday afternoon after the Office for Transport Security (OTS) reported finding a live .38-caliber bullet in one of their bags at the departure area of Terminal 1.

Esteban Cortabista, 78, and his wife Salvacion, 75, of Boso-Boso, Antipolo, Rizal were barred from boarding Korean Airlines flight KE 622 bound for Los Angeles via Seoul, South Korea.

The Cortabistas were shocked and trembling in fear after OTS personnel informed them that a live bullet was found in their carry-on luggage.

The couple denied owning the bullet, saying it was their second time to travel to America “and we both know that carrying bullets in the airport is prohibited so why we would bring bullet?”

Esteban said that he was surprised why they were allowed to pass the first X-ray machine when they entered NAIA-1 if there was a bullet in one of their bags.

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“We were allowed to pass the first X-ray machine and no bullet was seen in our luggage and we were surprised that after we passed the final X-ray, suddenly there was a bullet that appeared… this is clear that we are victims of the ‘bullet-planting’ scam,” said Esteban.

The couple was brought to the medical clinic for checkup before turnover to the police Aviation Security Group (AvseGroup), but doctors panicked when Salvacion complained of difficulty in breathing after her blood pressure shot up.

The baggage of the Cortabistas was offloaded from the aircraft and stored at the Korean Air Lines office pending investigation.

Despite Salvacion’s condition, the couple was brought to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the filing of charges of illegal possession of ammunition.

“We are just simple farmers in Boso-Boso, Antipolo, we don’t even have money, why did they do this to us?” said an obviously shaken Salvacion.

Vice presidential candidate Sen. Alan Cayetano lambasted the government after the latest alleged bullet-planting incident at NAIA-1.

Cayetano said that only his runningmate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has the political will and the courage to stop the bullet-planting scheme at the airport.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., another vice presidential bet, assailed the new case of alleged bullet-planting at NAIA.

“We should focus on planting rice, not bullets,” Marcos said. - With Robertzon Ramirez, Perseus Echeminada, Mike Frialde

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