LAWMAKERS on Tuesday decried the attempt of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to downplay the tanim-bala extortion scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that victimized passengers, mostly elderly.
Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Cynthia Villar said the illegal activity should be addressed regardless of the number of victims.
Aquino earlier said the issue was “sensationalized” to make it appear that the government is unable to put a stop to it.
“It is unfortunate that instead of trying to get into the bottom of these allegations, the President chose to dismiss these outright with statistics and even defended the airport authorities,” Marcos said in a statement.
“This is not about statistics; this is about an entire life, career or future of an individual and their families ruined by an extortion scheme. One incident of “tanim-bala” is one incident too many,” he added.
Villar said Gloria Ortinez, one of those detained by authorities after a bullet was found in her hand-carry bag, sensationalized the issue.
She said Ortinez will not risk losing her work in Hong Kong by bringing a bullet with her.
“I cannot imagine an individual willing to risk everything for a bullet and it is difficult to believe that there is no tanim-bala,” she said.
Marcos said Malacañang’s reaction puts into question the government’s sincerity in addressing the extortion scheme.
Anakpawis also scored Aquino for defending airport officials who failed to stop the extortion racket.
“President Aquino should not take the gravity of the issue by the numbers. One victim of tanim-bala is enough to compel the authority to quickly resolve the case. His latest statement defending the ranking NAIA officials from criminal and administrative liability is an obvious move to cover up its mess,” Rep. Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
“Clearly the Kamag-anak, Kaklase at Kaibigan weighs more than the trauma and inconvenience that the victims suffered in the hands of unscrupulous airport ranking officials and security personnel engaging in the illegal affair. He absolved these officials from any wrongdoing while there is no closure in the case. He just adds to the growing frustrations not only to the tanim-bala victims and their families but worst making the issue more infamous in the international scene,” he added.
The family of Lane Michael White, the American missionary indicted for carrying a bullet at the airport, said it respects the comment of the president and will leave everything to God.
Lane’s father Michael Ryan White quoted the Bible when asked to comment on Aquino’s statement.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians:6:12-13 KJV),” he said.
“We respect President Aquino’s opinions, but with this verse, we know that our God is in control and He is merciful and just.”
The preacher added that the government should address the problem instead of insulting the media and threatening the victims.
“During a time when the Filipino people needed reassurance that this problem would be fixed, they instead get their intelligence insulted, the media and the victims get threatened to be investigated,” he said.