Beware! Thieves have made NAIA their den

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IT is absolutely unbelievable that after weeks of news stories and angry posts on social media detailing incident after incident in which some innocent traveler fell victim to extortion by security or other workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), no one in the airport’s management organization or the government has lifted a finger to stop the epidemic of thievery.

In the latest incidents, a Japanese citizen departing to return home and an OFW leaving for work in Hong Kong both fell victim to what has become known as “laglag bala,” or bullet-planting, a scam in which an unwitting traveler is told that a bullet – which is of course illegal to carry on an airplane or in an airport – has been found in his or her baggage. The victim is then threatened with arrest, and reportedly offered the option of paying a bribe to be released to go on their way.

In a separate incident reported on Thursday, an elderly, wheelchair bound passenger hired a porter to assist her with her luggage – her son, entertainment writer Ruel Mendoza, was waiting outside to pick her up – only to be taken to the farther end of Terminal 1, where the porter attempted to extract a larger payment for his services. Refusing to be cheated, poor Mrs. Mendoza was left there, and later rescued by airport security after her son became alarmed that she had not exited the terminal more than an hour after her flight arrived.

How many times these sorts of incidents may have happened we can only guess; the public only becomes aware of them when a brave victim refuses to cooperate with his or her tormentors in uniform. The epidemic of thievery has been going on for weeks, if not longer. Our columnist Ramon Tulfo first wrote about it more than a month ago, and it seems to have only gotten worse.


In the typical casual way the Aquino Administration seems to always approach looming corruption scandals, the Palace has only this week promised a “probe” of the incidents, the first hint of any interest by any official or agency in the government.

It is far too late for an insincere promise of an investigation, and especially so when the agency to be tasked with carrying it out, the Office of Transport Security (OTS), is the one whose staff members are reportedly the perpetrators of most of the crimes.

The only sensible move at this point – which we are all certain but President Aquino, who takes a rather tolerant view towards misbehavior in his own government, will be unwilling to take – would be to suspend the entire OTS and temporarily turn over the task of maintaining airport security to a more trustworthy force such as the Philippine National Police, or even the armed forces, until the obviously badly needed corrections can be carried out. Anything less will not restore the public’s confidence, or reduce the risk that even more travelers will be victimized.

Until that happens, we feel it is necessary to warn the traveling public – in particular, our visitors from overseas whose otherwise very welcome presence might be spoiled by the callous greed of a few – to exercise extreme caution, and to avoid NAIA altogether if possible.

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35 Comments

  1. >>> Simple lang ang dahilan ng pangyayari sa NAIA terminal.

    Kung wala pa o nagkaroon noon sa terminal ang PLASTIC WRAPPING MACHINE, sigurado magkakaroon o dadami ang bibili ng franchise at maglalagay nito sa terminal.

    At mandatory o uubligahin ang mga departing passenger na balutin ng plastic ang mga “check-in luggage o baggage nila.

    Kaya kikita ang sinuman may negosyo nito at pati ang mga opisyal ng terminal.

    Kaya ang “laglag bala” o ” tanim-bala” ay isang “modus operation ng isang sindikato na may kaugnayan sa mga pulitiko at may impluwensiya sa administrasyon ng terminal o DOTC o Palasyo.

  2. As an ” Alien ” in this lovely country.
    I see corruption everyday.poverty everywhere.
    The so called infrastructure ( roads,water,power )etc , went to Alabang today
    almost got hit by a Jeepney pulling out to avoid the holes in the road
    and swerving back in again in front of us to avoid another hole ! the water supply to our home is a joke ! good supply at night when most are asleep, hardly any flow in the morning when its needed for showers etc !
    CORRUPTION? just land at NAIA and your a target for anyone there who is wearing an ID badge from the Immigration officials who ask ” have you any UK pounds or US Dollars ?”
    and the Baggage ” inspectors ” at the exit who need UK POUNDS etc.
    to the ” Taxi guy ” who says ” I will get you an Honest Cab !! ” yeah right !

    just try and get a driving licence in Binan where there are signs saying
    ” do not use fixers ! ” what a joke ! the people in the office always find fault with your paperwork ! and the Fixers are actually going inside the office and operating the computers for their clients !
    POVERTY? school children of infant age selling foodstuffs, Beggers everywhere,outside the malls,in the churches,outside the schools, old age pensioners expected to live on 500 pesos a month !!
    LOCALLY
    Local Barangay officials with new motorbikes and their family homes being extended.
    School teachers having to buy books for their students.
    Drive by shootings , packs of dogs roaming the streets , which suddenly vanish just before the dog catcher arrives !!

    As for the Government , Senators whose only thought is about themselves !
    A certain Senator who has a foundation which is only shown on TV when its election time !
    other Senators and officials spend over 200 million pesos on advertising etc when their yearly salary is just over 1.4 million pesos !!

    Looking at the Philippines from a Foriegners view the whole establishment from the Government to the Senators and house of whoever, to the local Governers and Mayors
    all need a big shakeup !

    I have lived in the Philippines now since 2011 but have been here many times prior to that since 2002 when I married my Filipino wife .
    And I can Honestly say despite what the media and those in power say poverty is getting worse ! it is everywhere !!

    The Philippines and its Corruption is now a regular topic in the British Media and The UK
    Foriegn office has again issued travel warnings for the Philippines !!

    ” ITS MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES ? ”
    YES ITS A LOVELY COUNTRY WITH THE FRIENDLIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD !!
    BUT IT NEEDS TO GET RID OF THE SAME OLD ELECTED CROOKS SO THE MONEY THAT GOES INTO THE GOVERNMENTS ACCOUNTS ACTUALLY GETS USED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY AND NOT JUST THE FEW WHO RE-ELECT THEMSELVES OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

  3. Even TIME’S has published something about the mortifying topic of the scheme of “lag-lag bala”. Some even took action to spread their thoughts in social media (specifically FaceBook), filipino citizens even gave the opinion that being Filipino is now shameful; plenty agree as well. Foreigners are even held back due to this scheme, saying they have to stay longer in the Philippines to just prove their innocence.
    The Philippines has already went down the wrong turn specifically such as the rigged government, or an incident such as this. Though this is just my opinion and many other citizens out there.
    We all ask for the same thing, justice. I have no point to prove but this concerns me just like any other person in the society.

  4. Jacinto Decena on

    Wala ng katapusan ang pagpapahirap ng gobyernong ito sa mga katuald naming nais kumita sa ibang bansa. Gustuhin man naming mamalagi sa pilipinas pero wala kaming makitang mainam na pagkakakitaan sa ating bansa.
    Pagkatapos ng insedente ng BUKAS BALIKBAYAN BOX SA CUSTOM eto at LAGLAG BALA NAMAN. Kailan kaya matatapos ang pagpapahirap ng gobyernong ito sa mga katulad naming OFW.

  5. How can it be more fun in the Philippines if these thieves are manning our airports? Thick-faced LADRONS!!

  6. It is amazing how filipinos are venting their disgust in comments right here.
    I agree 100% with you all that NAIA has become the worst airport in the world. These thieves or better said these corrupted officials can continue their scam because they know they are being protected by higher officials. If that wasnt the case then be sure that the management would have started a large scale investigation months ago in this tanim bala extortion.
    What can the filipino himse;lf do about this?
    As it is common knowledge that the current government is riddled by corruption, the filipino has to start voicing his disgust and unsatisfaction loud and clearly to the filipino nation, specially the voters.
    Once the public realize that there r a lot of voters unhappy what the current political situation in the Philipinnes more will join and voic out loudly that the philipinnes want a government on which the filipino can trust.
    Do all you can as a filipino to get rid of all those old politicians tainted by corruption and abuse of power.
    Only then can the philipinnes starts to move foreward towards social equality and less corrupted officials.
    Just start cleaning the damn ghetto called the philipines!!

    REPLY–
    BUt even elections are now rigged! The officials are using the Smartmatic PCOS.OMR machines that swallow your ballo9t withoutn transparently showing the precinct count and then transmit UNVERIFIED precinct results.

  7. Putting the recent revelations about this “laglag bala” incidents in
    the PROPER CONTEXT, as per Mr. Sonny Coloma, I believe one incident is ONE TOO MANY. I can’t believe that with so much attention focused on this issue, the government is too slow in fixing it. Lots of good suggestions have been put forward to minimize this type of “extortion”. Makes you wonder if the government has the sense of urgency and seriousness in eliminating this problem. This ought to be the TOP Priority.

  8. I wouldnt blame the government for this problem i would blame the airport management. Seeing as how they havent started any investigations whatsoever it seems they are either complicit or couldnt care less. There is a simple solution, sack them all. Boot them out for total incompetence. But all who are picked on should stand their ground & we should all back them. I wouldnt pay a single one of these liars & cheats & thieves. I would have the police called straight away.

    REPLY
    But they are with the POLICE!!!

  9. wala na nakakahiya na talaga tayo sa buong mundo. this is the lowest of its kind. I sometimes ashame to be ID as Filipino. we are looked now as the scum of the earth. Not even in Africa will this happen. the only change there maybe a violent revolution and execute all the crooks, keep no prisoners, re-educate the whole population whatever is left. then start from scratch. otherwise Philippines is a lost cause.

  10. The problem is that once you put you luggage, jacket on the conveyor belt – of security control, you don’t see nothing for a while.
    But even if – big IF, you see somebody planting something, what can you do ? You scream ? What you do if the security are crooks and the police there is the same ? And the police must be in it as well. Just my opinion.
    Like the song say: what yu gonna do when they come for you – bad, boy, what you’re gonna do when they come for you, bad, boy, bad boy…
    Just be grateful that they don’t plant some white powder.

  11. Are the PNP more trustworthy than the OTS? I think many people would disagree with that statement.
    How about handing it over the an independent, but competent authority, the FAA, UK CAA, the Australians etc. etc. they could investigate (in cooperation with local authorities)? This would ensure that the investigation was carried out properly, it would also assuage any worries that other Govts. and airlines may be having about the competency with which the airports here are run.

  12. well my best advice for those coming from abroad, there are still a lot of airports with honest personnel in the ground.. you can consider MACTAN International Airport.

  13. I hope and pray that this will be resolve as the soonest. Parusahan ang dapat parusahan o Tangalin lahat ang mga kasalukuyan nandun connected sa baggage including the Police. Tanggalin ang nag mamanage ng NAIA dahil sa mga depektibung CCTV. International Airport Malabo ang mga CCTV o Walang CCTV. Nakakahiya po tayo. Hindi lamang ang mga gumawa. Apektado lahat ng mga Pilipino lalu na kaming nasa ibang Bansa. Sasabihin nila Pilipino ka bat ganun ang Airport Management ninyo. Anu pung isasagut namin kung hindi D Namin Alam. Pero sa loob namin kami ay nahihiya. Sec. Jun Abaya should make hi decision as soon as possible. Remove all employees that are connected to the baggage area.

  14. What boggles the mind is that this laglag-bala scam was already high in the public consciousness, yet, instead of the perpetrators laying low, they pursue their nefarious activities unabated. This can mean one of two things. Either they fear nothing, knowing that the promised government probe will end up the same way other probes do by being consigned to limbo with no one punished. Or the thieves ARE lying low, and what we are now witnessing is actually less than what used to take place, despite the fact that a new case is reported every few days. To muddle things even more, a former comedienne turned staunch Aquino loyalist claims that all these cases were just meant to make Aquino – and by extension, Mar Roxas – look bad., I am not sure what she is referring to. Government personnel in NAIA making their own President look bad? Or passengers risking detention by planting the bullets themselves hoping to make a cause celebre out of it? I leave it up to the readers to judge the sanity – or lack thereof – of such allegations.

  15. Lance Langunsad on

    Bring back those brave & honest Phil Marines to guard all our Airport, they were assigned there once & they did an efficient job because most of them are incorruptible. Some officials so corrupt withdrawn them from their duty there because they cannot intimidate these Marines for their (govt officals) wicked ways.

  16. People’s knows only the tanin bala scam before they enter the airport how about other scam happening while you’re inside the airport like harang gang Ng immigration official and custom they also victimizing ofw and tourist.

  17. I was planning to spend one month vacation in Manila with relatives on Feb 2016 but now with this extortion at the NAIA airport I’m afraid to be a victim and I changed my plans and cancel my vacation. I even plan to retire there but now I’m thinking twice and maybe not. Philippines unfortunately is a haven for crooks. I rather stay in the US where there is efficiency, honesty and order.

    • The Philippines has changed much over the past 5 years and none of it for the better.
      Poverty increasing despite what the government says, crime increasing, government corruption out of control. City services are substandard, Power company (Ceneco) can’t go a week without a blackout, average is a blackout every 2 days.
      Water service is no better
      Mass transit is falling apart

      If you like booming techno music pumped into your home 24 hours a day then the Philippines is the place, Trikes blasting music as they drive through your neighborhood. Little motorcycles without mufflers, Rooster farms in residential neighborhoods.

      Internet is slow and expensive

      Can’t go anywhere except the mall or you have to contend with children, young people and old people begging for money. Have to use the ATM’s in the mall as beggers also camp out at the ATM’s with their children.

      Better to look around at other countries for retirement, the Philippines is going nowhere fast.

    • Kabayan, hwag mo ng ituloy yung balak mong mag-retire sa Pinas. Dyan ka na lang sa US. Kung pwede lang tumawid sa border ng Hungary ang mga Pinoy, baka walang matira sa Bansang Pinas….meron naman sigurong matitira, yung mga nasa gobyerno.

  18. Human,gold,illegal drugs and all kinds of smuggling are here at the Philippines airports, corrupt and thieves officials involved should be put in jail and confiscates all their belongings including their loots which are deposited in their or other persons bank accounts. Pnoy is nearing is end a new president should not allow all these appointed officials including cabinet secretaries to leave the country they are bunch of KAWATAN to the MAX!

    • Mar Roxas is actually promising more of the same. Believe it or not. Who cares about the voters, as long as Smartmatic is with you?

  19. “ISOLATED CASE” perennial alibi of this administration, how many times we had this incident? It was really a planned means of easy extortion.

  20. As a Filipino I am deeply ashamed this is happening. How low can we get? Yet our PNoy doesn’t seem to care….doesn’t even comment…He does not even realize that these shenanigans dishonor his father’s name becuas the airport is named after him! For shame, indeed, for shame

    • That’s why its called Naia! The name itself breeds corruption! That’s why they toppled Marcos, they’re more corrupt(As inthe whole clan).

  21. Vic Penetrante on

    People in a hurry can easily be fleeced of their money than those who have all the time in the world for court action. Please ask the NAIA authorities if they can fire bullets by simply flicking them with their fingers.

  22. Common sense tells that NAIA is a playground for thieves just like any other government businesses. Welcome to TANIM BALA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. HAVE A NICE DAY.

  23. What a shame the daang matuwid of Pnoy….! MIA,(Manila Internatioanal Airport) during Marcos time was one of the best airport in the world and there was no single accident happened like that to our beloved ofw and foreigners. When Cory Aquino were installed a president by the so called people grabber, they renamed MIA to NAIA(Ninoy Aquino International Airport), as an honor to Ninoy who was killed at MIA Tarmac . Cory Aquino and Pnoy had a chance to make NAIA as he best and world class International Airport around the globe, but sad to say, they made NAIA as the worst and dangerous Airport around the globe.WHAT A SHAME>>>>>!

    • laguatanlawzen.com on

      The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) should be rightly renamed – NAKAW AQUINO INTENTIONAL AIRPORT (NAIA). Ano ba ang ginawa ni ABNOY was nakawan sa NAIA? Inutil talaga ito si ABNOY, manhid at walang pakialam sa mga naghihirap na pasahero. WHAT A SHAME!!!!!

  24. A pity, as in other respects, the experience of passing through terminal 1 is now very much improved. Not only the victims suffer, but also the honest hard working staff who are successfully turning the terminal round.

  25. Avoiding the Philippines entirely is probably a better idea, the country has turned into a lawless, corrupt,broken down excuse of a country during Aquino’s administration.

  26. What do you expect to a government like this? Ang ating pangulo ay gago, siyempre ganoon din ang kanyang mga alipores. Our country is a real mess. Red tapes, drug trafficking, smuggling, corruption scandals in DBM (DAP/PDAF scandals), DOTC (MRT/LRT bog downs and rigged biddings), DA (rice smuggling, rice import anomalies), BOC and DSWD ang umiiral sa panahon ng Abnoy regime. Daan matuwid is a big joke. Gago lang ang mga boboto sa mga LP candidates.

  27. As an ordinary citizen and an OFW, i’m wondering why the government has no action and you are right Sir, they are not even lifting any finger to stop this “tanim bala”….WHY???? Why are they allowing this to happen to us poor OFW’s and even visitors from other countries…”nakakahiya” The President must do something about this, overhaul the entire NAIA personnel, from top to bottom…..change them all soon! Sobrang takot na kami at sobrang galit na…this must stop!