Bullet ‘planters’ indicted

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NBI files raps vs 4 policemen, 2 NAIA security screeners

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The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Task Force Talaba (Tanim-Laglag Bala) on Thursday filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal complaints against two employees of the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) and four personnel of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup).

In a news conference, Justice Undersecretary Emmanuel Caparas identified the respondents as Maria Elma Cena and Marvin Garcia, both of the OTS; and Chief Insp. Adriano D. Junio, Senior Police Officer 4 Ramon A. Bernardo, SPO2 Rolando A. Clarin and SPO2 Romy U. Navarro, all of the Avsegroup.

The OTS is an attached agency of the Department of Transportation and Communications.
The DOJ listed the complainants as Eloisa S. Zoleta and her stepson, Lane Michael White, both of Barangay Merville, Parañaque City (Metro Manila).

White was apprehended for allegedly carrying a bullet at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 last September 17 and was charged in court.

His mother accused the police officers of trying to extort P30,000 to P80,000 from them.

The NBI used as evidence a footage showing Cena and Garcia handling White’s luggage at the X-ray machine area and calling his attention to alleged presence of a bullet in a bag that White was carrying.

Mother and stepson, however, refused to shell out money, causing White to be detained for several days at the airport jail.

The case reached the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office.

Zoleta and her stepson were also invited to testify in a Senate hearing where she showed the video she took.

They personally filed the case at the Department of Justice on Thursday morning.

The two were accompanied by NBI agents and Zoleta’s husband, Michael Ryan White.
“We are very happy because the NBI has shown how we were made victims of these people,” Michael Ryan told The Manila Times.

The two OTS personnel were charged with violation of Article V, Section 38 (Liability for Planting Evidence) of Republic Act (RA) 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The four policemen were charged with violation of Article 293 (Robbery/Extortion) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended, RA 7438, or An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation and Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers and RA 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The case stemmed from a complaint of Zoleta and her stepson that they were victimized by the tanim-bala (bullet-planting) extortion scheme at NAIA in Pasay City.

The NBI probers, in a letter to Prosecutor-General Claro Arellano, recommended that the case undergo preliminary investigation before the Justice department to enable the six respondents to give their side.

No syndicate involved

The DOJ earlier confirmed involvement of airport personnel in the alleged extortion scheme.

“The full force of the law would be brought upon you,” Caparas said in a news briefing.
He said while “corrupt” airport officials may be behind the scheme, “I believe, based on the data gathered, the NBI cannot rule that there is a syndicate behind these incidents.”

The bullet-planting scheme involves the sneaking in of live ammunition into bags of unsuspecting travelers by airport personnel for extortion purposes.

Caparas said the NBI task force interviewed several individuals and reviewed documents on reported cases over the past five years.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd as well as Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier drew flak after they attempted to downplay the incidents by saying the cases were just isolated and that media hype blew the whole thing out of proportion.

The DOJ directed the NBI task force to continue with its probe to flush out other airport officials and personnel involved in the alleged extortion.

“This whole investigation is not over yet. [This will continue]. We [DOJ and NBI] have the same inclination to really find out how this particular incident came to be. We cannot say that the whole incident is [over],” Caparas said.

Police welcome probe result

The Avsegroup on Thursday welcomed the outcome of the NBI task force’s investigation.
“The Avsegroup will not tolerate any members who are involved in illegal activity,” the Avsegroup spokesman, Chief Insp. Samuel Hojilla said, adding that they respect the result of the inquiry.

Meanwhile, the lawyer of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), who was detained for several days at the Avsegroup office for allegedly carrying a bullet at the airport, is calling for the resignation of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado.

Lawyer Spocky Farolan insisted that Honrado should resign out of delicadeza [sense of propriety]to “allow a more competent and qualified manager to manage the airport.”

Farolan, a pro-bono lawyer of Gloria Ortinez, the OFW and alleged bullet-planting scam victim, believes that the scam at the NAIA involving OTS and Avsegroup personnel is a syndicate.

“It is impossible that Honrado did not know all about [the syndicate’s]operation. It’s just on the tip of his nose,” the lawyer said.

He told reporters that Ortinez and the other victims were not convinced with the result of the NBI investigation that there is no syndicate behind the scam at the premier airport.

The lawyer said the NBI should also include all officials of the Avsegroup and the OTS in the cases they filed against the two OTS personnel and four policemen.

He added that Honrando should not be spared from the case since “he is causing pain and anguish to the entire nation.”

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11 Comments

  1. Correct my friends…I agree with all of your comments. These people are a disgrace to the good name of the Philippine Islands. We need to change our government system by electing the person advocating for Federalism come 2016 national election.

  2. Now that the NBI has filed criminal cases against these corrupt airport security personnel, who by the way are just “small fish” at the NAIA, the logical next step is for the NBI catch the “big fish.”

    These airport security personnel and airport superiors should be held into higher standards. It wasn’t that these small fish and big fish did not meet the expectations of their positions at NAIA, they themselves committed felonious acts at the NAIA that warrant long imprisonment.

  3. Gaucho McGringo on

    That’s right it is just a screen to cover up other scams. This scam cannot be the result of individual baggage scanners deciding on their own that they want to intimidate a passenger and extort money. I doubt that most of them would be foolish enough to do that by themselves. Instructions had to have come from the top, and these people at the top will NEVER be held accountable for anything.

    Another scam that they are heavily involved in now is the deportation of people who do not have forwarding tickets out of the Philippines when they arrive. They get 50k from the airlines for each person, and they refuse to allow anyone to get out of this by simply making another flight reservation out of the Philippines. They do this to Balikbayans and people married to Philippine nationals every day. They are extremely cruel and harsh about it. I know, because it happened to me; there were at least seven other foreigners who also had to spend an entire night at the airport, followed by deportation in the morning! They treat normal people who make an honest mistake like criminals, and nobody who ever goes through this will ever view the Philippines in a positive way ever again!

    • This is not a Philippines policy exclusively. All countries require the same that you have a return or onwards flight. Also you need a minimum of six months validity on your passport. Airlines are supposed to check these requirements and refuse carriage if the passenger doesn’t meet these requirements before setting out for your destination.

  4. I am really surprise that Mr. abaya is getting away with these anomalies. Mr Abaya, you are the secretary of transportation, how come you are cleared of all these crimes. MRT anomalies, airport anomalies, LTO plate and license anomalies and still you are getting away with total and corrupt mismanagement. People said you are intelligent. In my opinion you are a disgrace , shame on you. You and Secretary Abad must must resign ASAP. Both of you makes this country bad. Wait after the election, if Mr Roxas lose, both of you are in deep deep trouble. That is ths reason I will not vote for Mar Roxas. A Loy of Filipinos will not vote for Mar Roxas because of the two of you.

  5. Honrado is a typical Aquino appointee, doing nothing except collecting his salary. He admits doing nothing about the bullet planting claiming that it was not his area of responsibility.

  6. Usec caparas is deceiving the people when he said that there is no syndicate involved on this tanim bala modus operande at the airport. The mere fact that more or less six people were criminally charged on this crime and considering that the government admitted that more than a thousand persons were found to be carrying bullets upon entering the airport, although they admitted that only less than 100 persons were charged, is a clear sign that a syndicate has been working for several years at the airport.

  7. This is just a screen to cover up the corruption that is occurring at the airport. There are far more than just these 6. PNP and OTS both came out after the initial reports of this scheme stating that they are great and honest. More lies, many more involved in this needs to be immediately arrested and jailed with high bail (1 million)! Give them prison sentences of 20-40 years.

  8. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    Correction to the previous comment:
    Correct: “For certainly, these people like HONRADO, ABAYA and ABNOY are NOT
    qualified to hold office in the government.”

  9. SALVACION CAHAYAG on

    Honrado? This is the usual kind of Aquino official who does not even know his job.
    What can we expect. If this president is incompetent, corrupt, vindictive and liar, what
    could you expect from his appointees. These people should understand what
    COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY means. If they don’t they should go back to college
    and study rather than incriminating others thru their illiteracy, incompentency or lack
    of knowledge. For certainly, these people like HONRADO, ABAYA and ABNOY are
    qualified to hold office in the government.