Placement of high-definition (HD) closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in all baggage-checking areas in the country’s airports is being proposed in Congress.
The proposal came amid an alleged bullet-planting (tanim-bala or laglag-bala) scam hounding the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
According to Las Piñas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Mark Villar, the principal author of House Bill 6243, “These incidents of tanim-bala are truly inimical to our tourism industry and to the national economy. We can utilize technology to our advantage, especially in protecting people and in preventing undesirable incidents from happening.”
The proposed measure, or the Luggage Surveillance Act of 2015, provides for the installation of HD CCTV cameras in all baggage- checking areas of airport terminals in order to prevent the planting of incriminating evidence.
An HD CCTV camera is one “capable of true high-definition 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080).”
Under the bill, the surveillance cameras shall be online for 24 hours and seven days a week and video recordings shall be kept for not fewer than 60 days from recording.
Further, it mandates the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group to take charge of operating and maintaining the HD cameras in good condition.
The authorized custodian shall maintain the confidentiality of video recordings, the bill states.
Also, the proposed measure provides that those who tamper with the HD CCTV cameras face a maximum of three years’ jail time and a fine not exceeding P30,000, or both.
Imprisonment not exceeding five years and a fine not more than P50,000, or both, apply if the violator is a public officer or employee.
Villar, in filing the bill, cited the state’s policy to maintain peace and order; to protect life, liberty and property; and to promote the general welfare.
“With the rampant incidents of alleged bullet-planting and extorting by security personnel of the [NAIA], a culture of fear has spread among tourists and even balikbayan [Filipino returnees],” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Citing news reports, the lawmaker noted that the common narration of the victims was that they were stopped after their luggage had been scanned, with a security officer then checking the luggage and pulling out a bullet from his pocket.
“Thereafter, the security officer would then detain the victim and extort money for the speedy resolution of the problem,” Villar said.
“With the installation of high-definition closed-circuit television cameras, the perpetrators of this nefarious laglag-bala or tanim-bala scheme can be identified or deterred,” he added.
“The installation of closed-circuit television system cameras in public places and in business establishments has proven to be useful in identifying and catching offenders, and in preventing crimes from happening due to the fear of being caught,” Villar said.
The bill is pending before the House Committee on Transportation.