3 airport men charged over ‘tanim-bala’

Ghio Ong (The Philippine Star) - May 3, 2016 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Two agents of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) and an airport wheelchair attendant at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were charged by the Pasay City prosecutor’s office in connection with the alleged tanim-bala or bullet-planting scheme that recently victimized an elderly couple.

OTS agents Ferdinand Morales and Fatti Dame Go and attendant Niño Namba were charged for planting evidence under Article V, Section 38 of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Law, robbery with intimidation and unjust vexation.

Salvacion Cortabista,75, and husband Esteban,78, filed the complaints.

The couple claimed that they were victimized by the OTS personnel who found a live .38 caliber bullet in the hand carry bag of Salvacion at the departure area of the NAIA Terminal 1 on April 19. The couple denied owning the bullet.

The bullet was found in a pocket inside Salvacion’s brown handbag at the final X-ray counter of the departure area.

The couple was supposed to fly to Los Angeles to visit their daughter and for Salvacion’s medical checkup for arthritis.

In their joint sworn statement, the Cortabistas alleged that Morales, Go and Namba might have conspired to execute the alleged tanim-bala scheme.

They also stressed that Namba was the only one who got near their baggage.

The statement also said two personnel in uniform, later identified as Morales and Go, prevented them from undergoing final inspection of their baggage as something suspicious was found inside Salvacion’s handbag.

Morales later found the bullet, saying it was found in the handbag pocket during the final check.

He also said “mahina ang singkwenta mil (P50,000 is peanuts),” which the couple believed was an attempt at extortion.

The couple also said Morales was gesturing at Go and this was captured by a security camera, according to the couple’s statement.

Salvacion also said in the statement she was treated as just another prisoner “without consideration for my old age and condition” when she underwent booking procedure by police.

The incident, the couple said, traumatized them and forced them to cancel their US trip.

The Public Attorney’s Office, counsel for the Cortabistas, included in an affidavit 46 resolutions recommending dismissal of previous tanim-bala cases due to lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, a Bureau of Immigration officer at NAIA Terminal 1 praised the Office of the Ombudsman that found two former BI commissioners and another employee guilty of grave misconduct for the illegal suspension of a bureau officer.

The ombudsman’s order, signed by Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer II Blesilda Ouano last Jan. 26, but released only last April 4, ordered the dismissal from the service with all the necessary penalties of former immigration commissioners Ricardo David Jr. and Siegfred Mison and BI head executive assistant Grace Lara.

Complainant Paulino Verzosa, a former Immigration Alien Control Officer at the BI Laoag Field Office, had accused David, Mison and Lara of grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a public officer and oppression.

Verzosa was suspended for one month and one day on Nov. 13, 2007 for simple misconduct by then BI officer in charge Ronaldo Ledesma and Felino Quirante Jr.

 Verzosa immediately filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the BI in July 2010 when David was the new BI commissioner.  

He brought the case to the Manila regional trial court in September 2010 and the court issued “a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction directing the BI officials to desist from implementing the penalty of suspension upon complainant.” – With Rudy Santos

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