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Senators decry OFW's arrest over 'tanim-bala'

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Four senators decried the arrest of an Overseas Filipino Worker for allegedly carrying a bullet in her bag at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Sens. Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., and Ralph Recto expressed concern over the recent incident in a series of apparent "tanim-bala" or bullet planting scheme at the airport, victimizing travelers such as the 56-year-old Gloria Ortinez.

Villar said Ortinez does not seem to be the guilty party as she has been a ward to children for a long time, having worked in Hong Kong for 13 years.

“Kapag yaya ka ba, makikialam ka sa bala? I think wala sa profile niya, nagugulat lang ako. Kawawa naman siya kasi babae, hindi naman siya OFW na inconsistent," Villar said.

The senator noted that Ortinez only arrived in the country for a vacation and might lose her job if she is not allowed to return to Hong Kong.

Ortinez was arrested and detained on October 25 after an airport officer accused her of carrying bullets of a carbine rifle in her bag at the NAIA Terminal 2 as she was about to fly to Hong Kong.

Binay, meanwhile, said authorities should immediately address cases that affect overseas workers.

"Nakakabahala na hindi tumiitigil ang patuloy na pananamatala sa mga turista, sa ating mga balikbayan, at lalong-lalo na sa ating mga OFWs," Binay said.

"These incidents have been reported to our authorities before as far back as 2005 but why are these abuses still happening?" she added.

Marcos said that Ortinez may not only lose her job, but may have to go through taxing legal procedures.

"She now bears the additional burden of having to defend herself in court and the possibility of spending time in jail. This means she is still on the losing end even if she is eventually cleared of the charges against her," Marcos said. "We call our OFWs our modern heroes and this is what they get in return?"

Recto also urged authorities to go after the "real" criminals.

“One hundred forty five people get robbed every day, 451 people are victimized by thieves every day, 28 women get raped every day, and 27 are killed every day. And the only 'criminal' they can parade on TV is a hapless OFW who's been caught with one bullet whose provenance was later doubted by Justice department prosecutors?" Recto said.

Marcos found the incident disturbing as there have been cases noted before and yet there no apparent actions have been taken to prevent the incident from reoccurring.

"We have heard of similar incidents before on this modus operandi to extort money from hapless victims and we all thought that with the media attention and investigations conducted this won't happen again. That is why this latest incident is disturbing to say the least," Marcos said.

Recto said airport authorities should focus on guns instead of bullets, citing a Norweigian group study indicating that over 200,000 guns are brought into the country.

“Ang malaking problema ay hindi ang paisa-isang paglabas ng bala, pero ang pag-smuggle ng libo-libong baril,” Recto said.

BINAY

CYNTHIA VILLAR

GLORIA ORTINEZ

HONG KONG

MARCOS JR.

NANCY BINAY

NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

ORTINEZ

OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKER

QUOT

RALPH RECTO

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