Still no reason to be complacent

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - November 17, 2015 - 9:00am

It's good to hear that some stories do end well. What Gloria Ortinez, the OFW who was returning to her employer in Hong Kong when she became yet another victim of the "tanim-bala" scam, went through is nothing short of a nightmare. Last month, while undergoing those routine checks at NAIA, a bullet was "discovered" in her hand-carry bag. She was immediately detained and charged. According to her testimony at the Senate hearing on the airport scam, she spent several days in detention. At that point, her job was already in jeopardy.

But when her case was presented by two airport police officers, the prosecutor had to dismiss the charges against her because the bullet that was found in her bag did not match the bullet being submitted by the police. Brilliant police work. Evidence is supposed to be preserved because as a popular TV show character says, the evidence cannot lie. In this case, it is obvious who were lying. There was also no proof that Ortinez had any intention to bring a bullet to Hong Kong or wherever, so the case against her was ultimately dropped. The two police officers were removed from their posts. I wonder where the PNP will assign them next, if they are not dismissed? Somewhere they cannot do any harm, I hope. Like typing on a desk at the PNP headquarters.

But the damage had already been done. Because she could not return on the specified date, she was terminated by her employer. As she went to Hong Kong to retrieve her belongings, her employer of the past twelve years had a change of heart the next day and decided to give her a new contract. After an emotional rollercoaster ride that started with the obvious planting of a bullet, her life is back on track once again.

This is how bad this whole "tanim-bala" scam is. It destroys the lives of innocent people. Hardworking people like Gloria Ortinez. The fact that she had been working in Hong Kong for the past twelve years should have already been enough to point out that it made no sense for her to bring a single bullet. We really can thank the brilliance of the two airport police for botching up their own fabricated case. I mean, was the actual bullet supposedly founding in Gloria Ortinez's bag recycled, that's why they could not present it? Government officials true to their jobs must address this issue, and not point to each other as what was seen in the Senate hearings. Creating a "last look" bin just before entering the pre-departure area is a step in the right direction. The idea is for passengers to thoroughly check their hand-carry bags for any contraband or prohibited item - whether dangerous to the aircraft or not - and throw it out with no liabilities against them. If a bullet is found, throw it out. If drugs are found, throw them out.

Still, this is no reason to be complacent. Criminals always try to find a way around a system. Passengers should still keep a watchful eye on their baggage as they insert them into the x-ray machine. CCTV cameras must still be placed to monitor everyone in the area. Airport scanners should not handle bags. It is hoped that with these new measures, nobody will profit from the "tanim-bala" scam. They may seek employment elsewhere. I guess by then we will know who were benefiting much from the scam.

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