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Senate to tackle bullet incidents

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate will start an inquiry tomorrow into the alleged bullet planting incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate committee on public services, said among the resource persons to be invited to the hearing are Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado.

Osmeña said the officials of the Philippine National Police – Aviation Security Group would also be asked to shed light on the alleged “tanim bala” (bullet planting) extortion scheme at the airport, which has placed the country in a bad light before the international community.

Several lawmakers that included Senators Francis Escudero, Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ralph Recto, Cynthia Villar and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. filed resolutions calling for a congressional probe into the bullet-planting incidents at the NAIA.

“Well, we want to find out first. What is the real score on this issue and then we want to put all the facts together. We want to find why most of the victims are overseas Filipino workers. I pity them,” Osmeña said.

Osmeña added that the committee is trying to get the initial findings from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which has formed a task force to look into the allegations of an extortion racket by some airport officials and security personnel.

He said some of the supposed victims of the scam would be invited by the Senate to attend the hearings.

“If it would be ready. I would try to invite those who have been arrested but have since been released. It just so happens there was a dozen of them released. And we want their stories on record,” Osmeña said, referring to the 12 people ordered released by Pasay City prosecutors for lack of probable cause.

Osmeña added he sympathizes with the victims, especially the overseas Filipino workers indicted over the controversial “tanim-bala” incidents at the airport.

He said he wanted to look into reports of an extortion syndicate behind the tanim-bala scheme.

“It looks like it there were something like 12 cases only in 2014. Then all of a sudden, there were 115 cases in 2015. It is becoming a bad habit. I believe it has to be done by a syndicate because they are those who would plant the bullet and then later on a different person collects the money,” he said.

Osmeña also stressed the need to review procedures in security and enforcement operations at the NAIA.

“We have laws against murder, we have laws against smuggling, still there’s smuggling every day. It’s the enforcement of the laws that’s important. So what can we do? Again, here are laws against corruption, yet it happens everyday,” he said.

Osmeña said the hearings would also look into the proposals to decriminalize the possession of ammunition.

“We can look into that, it’s just in aid of legislation anyway. So we can look into that. So that if you want to blackmail somebody you’d have to put six bullets. Now we see the increasing number of bullets being planted,” he said.

He noted the recent laws showed the possession of five bullets is exempted from prosecution.

“You would know the syndicate now became a little more sophisticated,” Osmeña added.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, said Abaya should be fired for incompetence amid the issues hounding his department on the malfunction of the MRT-3 trains and the “tanim-bala” operations at the airports.

“If he’s incompetent, fire him, without even asking to resign. Fire him, if he is incompetent,” Enrile said.–Rudy Santos, Edu Punay, Alexis Romero, Robertzon Ramirez, Edith Regalado

ACIRC

ALEXIS ROMERO

ATILDE

AVIATION SECURITY GROUP

CYNTHIA VILLAR AND FERDINAND MARCOS JR.

EDITH REGALADO

EDU PUNAY

GRACE POE

JOSE ANGEL HONRADO

OSME

PLUSMN

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