Pacman offers lawyers for ‘bullet’ victims
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - October 31, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing superstar and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao is up in arms over the growing number of “laglag-bala or tanim-bala (bullet-planting)” incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Mariin kong kinokondena ang nangyayaring laglag-bala extortion racket (I strongly condemn the laglag-bala extortion racket),” Pacquiao said yesterday in a statement, referring to allegations of bullet-planting on arriving and departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Pacquiao, vice chairman of the House committee on overseas workers affairs (OWA), said the incidents have caused embarrassment for the country in the international community.

“These activities are destroying the image of the country and the reputation of innocent victims,” he said.

The boxer-turned-politician offered his help to victims of the extortion racket, saying he has assigned a team of lawyers to render free legal assistance. 

They could also text or call lawyer Jojo Bondoc at 0920-9211162, he said.

At the same time, Pacquiao urged Malacañang to take swift and concrete steps in addressing tanim-bala incidents.  

The latest incident involving Hong Kong-bound OFW Gloria Ortinez has attracted so much attention after it was carried by BBC News.

Airport personnel are allegedly behind the scheme, discreetly planting bullets in a passenger’s baggage as it goes through the X-ray machine.

Once apprehended, the innocent victim will end up shelling out as little as P500 or roughly $12 in exchange for his or her freedom.

“Papanagutin natin ang mga taong nasa likod nito upang wag pamarisan (We will make the people behind this scheme accountable so they are not emulated),” he said.

Pacquiao is concerned that since Christmas is just around the corner, thousands of OFWs are bound to reunite with their loved ones, and they might fall prey to the extortion racket.

Ortinez, a 56-year-old who’s been working in Hong Kong for two decades, was apprehended and not allowed to board the plane, and now risks losing her job.

In tears, she claimed innocence and was released by airport authorities although she’s not totally off the hook yet pending further investigation.

A recent GMA 7 report said from January to August this year, a total of 3,325 bullets have been seized by airport personnel on passengers.

It’s quite a staggering number when airport passengers are aware and well-informed that carrying bullets on board an airplane is punishable by law.

Just recently, four X-ray screeners at the NAIA were suspended for suspicion of being part of the tanim-bala scheme.

Pacquiao said while authorities describe it as an “isolated incident,” it still calls for immediate and proper action.

Davao incident

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines received information from Davao International Airport area manager Efren Nagrama yesterday that the PNP-Aviation Security Group arrested another passenger for having two pieces of 9mm live ammo in his luggage.?

Nagrama identified the passenger as Augusto Dagan, of Philippine Airlines flight PR 1814 bound for Manila.

Glen Jay Galon of the PNP-ASG arrested Dagan at 9:40 a.m. for violating Presidential Decree 1866 and Republic Act 10591.

He was later released at 4:14 p.m. after posting a cash bond of P120,000. – With Rudy Santos

 

ACIRC AUGUSTO DAGAN AVIATION SECURITY GROUP CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY OF THE PHILIPPINES DAVAO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT EFREN NAGRAMA GLEN JAY GALON GLORIA ORTINEZ HONG KONG JOJO BONDOC PACQUIAO
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