Bullet-planting victim’s case set for resolution

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A Pasay City (Metro Manila) court on Wednesday gave the camp of tanim-bala (bullet-planting) victim Lance Michael White, son of an American missionary, three days to submit a report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on their bullet-planting complaint.

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Judge Pedro Gutierrez of Branch 119 of the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) said the case is considered submitted for resolution and he is only interested to find out results of an NBI probe since the case was also brought to the agency’s attention.

Last September 13, White, 20, accompanied by his father and stepmother Eloisa Zuleta, was on his way to Palawan via Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) when he was questioned by personnel of the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) and the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP-Avsegroup) for allegedly keeping a bullet in his luggage.

It was also alleged that the airport personnel were demanding as high as P80,000 in exchange for letting him go for illegal possession of the bullet.

White, saying he could not lie, was detained for six days and five nights. He then sought the help of the NBI but the investigation, he said, was so slow.

Meanwhile, White’s lawyer, Ernesto Arellano, also on Wednesday branded as “irresponsible” a comment of President Benigno Aquino 3rd that the media was hyping up the bullet-planting incidents at NAIA.

He said the President should not blame but instead commend the media for exposing the anomalies.

“As a true leader, he should take responsibility to resolve the problem,” the lawyer added.

Arellano said the President has difficulty disengaging himself from the people close to him like former PNP chief Alan Purisima, who, despite being not on active duty, was ordered by Aquino to handle an operation against well-known terrorists.

The operation ended in what is now known as the Mamasapano massacre that left 44 members of the PNP’s Special Action Force dead.

“The contribution of the media is very significant in leading the way. The media is showing the way [when it]is supposed to be the role of the President,” Arellano said, dismissing allegation that the issue was sensationalized.

People from OTS and Avsegroup did not attend the hearing on Wednesday.

Arellano said some witnesses filed comments on the case but he immediately described them as without basis since they do not have any personality.

“That’s the reason why their lawyer is not here today. Even the honorable fiscal manifested that he will no longer file a rejoinder,” he added.

“We have faith that the resolution will be very fair and hopefully will be in our favor,” Arellano said.

According to the lawyer, the absence of OTS and Avsegroup from the hearing only means they do not have any basis for filing the case.

The bullet-planting extortion racket has been probed by the Senate.

Among those that it had invited to its hearings was White, who showed a video that revealed how the OTS and Avesgroup people were conducting their modus operandi.

Two more complainants have sought the help of NBI, which was ordered by the Justice secretary to investigate the alleged extortion racket at the country’s primary international airport.

Anytime this week, the NBI is expected to release its findings, including the filing of charges against the OTS and Avesgroup people involved in the bullet-planting.

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