At least three people were accosted by airport authorities on Wednesday, the latest apprehension over concealed bullets found in the possession of air travelers.
A United States-bound Filipino-American traveler was arrested after a .22 caliber revolver with five live rounds of ammunition were detected at the final security check at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
Ramon Velasco Laorca was supposed to board a Delta Airlines flight when he was apprehended.
The pistol was found inside a clutch bag that was placed in his shoulder bag after it passed through the airport’s X-ray machine.
Laorca claimed he hastily left their house in Quezon City where he inadvertently forgot to leave the gun and its bullets behind.
Avsegroup director Balagtas, meanwhile, said Ray Salada entered NAIA Terminal 3 to buy a plane ticket when he was arrested for having an M-16 rifle bullet in his bag.
Salada claimed that he borrowed the bag from a friend who is in the military service.
Another passenger identified as Monalisa Rico, 55, of Taguig City (Metro Manila), was also arrested for carrying an M-16 rifle bullet with her as she was about to board a Philippine Airlines flight bound for London.
Meanwhile, a 68-year-old woman was held for a while at NAIA Terminal 1 before being released after she was found wearing a pendant that looks like a bullet.
The elderly woman, who was not identified, was able to board her US-bound flight when authorities confirmed it was not a dangerous item.
The woman explained to Office of Transport Security supervisor Elmer Cahatol that the bullet-pendant costing P3,000 was given to her by a quack doctor who told her the amulet will protect her from witchcraft.
Meanwhile, five people who were apprehended for possessing bullets at NAIA underwent inquest proceedings before the Pasay City prosecutor’s office on Wednesday afternoon.
Those charged with illegal possession of ammunition were: Marlou Rose Española, 27, of Bacolod City; Rowena Otic, 33, of Nueva Ecija; Milagrosa Cadiente, 48, of Pasig City; Melody Valdez, 40, of Pangasinan; and Santiago Peñaflorida, 77, of Iloilo.
All denied having any criminal intent for possessing the bullets.
Otic and Cadiente were non-passengers who claimed the bullets were amulets. They were just about to pick up their relatives at Terminal 3, they said.
Passengers Española, Valdez and Peñaflorida, on the other hand, said they have no idea how the bullets got into their luggage. They argued that they were just victims of the infamous “tanim-bala” extortion racket.
The suspects were detained at Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group office.