Will this madness ever stop?

17

WE have reached a point where it is no longer an expression of sarcasm or mean-spiritedness to openly question the grasp of reality of officials of the Aquino Administration.

According to reports that began circulating early Thursday morning, it took less than 24 hours for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to determine with certainty what Filipinos, in particular OFWs and their families, have known and feared for years: That an organized, extensive criminal syndicate involving individuals from several agencies including the Manila International Airport Authority, the Office of Transport Security, the Bureau of Immigration, the Aviation Security Group of the Philippine National Police, and even taxi drivers and other service providers is systematically extorting innocent passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The “tanim-bala,” or bullet-planting modus, it is now obvious, is just the most visible part of the extortion racket, and only attracted widespread public attention and fury thanks to a couple of brave victims who refused to go along with it. Other methods, which are primarily targeted at people the perpetrators identify as likely to be easily frightened into paying a bribe – OFWs, elderly passengers, and passengers traveling alone – involve questioning the passenger’s purpose of travel or their travel and visa documents, with amounts demanded from the unwitting victims in exchange for letting them go on their way ranging up to several thousand pesos.

The “tanim-bala” extortion racket seems to have been particularly effective, partly because it is a habit of some Filipinos to carry a bullet as an amulet, and partly because the law that addresses the possession of ammunition is unnecessarily harsh and inflexible. The bullet-planting crime is not a new development; a quick bit of online research reveals that foreign visitors to the Philippines have shared warnings about it since at least 2012.


Incredibly dishonest, or just incredibly dumb?

Yet based on the response by President BS Aquino 3rd and officials such as former DOTC and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, current DOTC chief Joseph Emilio Abaya, and MIAA general manager Jose Angel Honrado, the only people among the 100 million-plus population of the Philippines who are not aware there is a large-scale criminal enterprise operating at NAIA are the handful of stewards of Aquino’s farcical and imaginary “Daang Matuwid or Straight Path.” According to Abaya, the issue is being “blown out of proportion.” According to Roxas, the supposed extortion racket is simply a conspiracy (one that apparently involves old ladies and American missionaries) to discredit him and the Liberal Party ahead of next year’s elections.

This madness must stop, and it must stop now. We recommend three steps that can be taken immediately to resolve this embarrassing man-made crisis. First, to the traveling public: It should be more than obvious by now that carrying a bullet as a good luck charm is foolish and dangerous. Do not, under any circumstances, keep a bullet in your possession; after all, an amulet really isn’t working in your favor if it causes you to fall prey to a criminal syndicate.

Second, the NBI must be allowed to conduct a swift, thorough investigation without interference; if it is necessary to enlist the help of an outside agency such as the FBI or Interpol to ensure the NBI can carry out its work, then do so.

And third, the management and all staff of the airport and associated agencies who have any contact with passengers or their belongings should be immediately suspended. Those who are found to have a part in the criminal conspiracy should be arrested and charged; those who are found to be innocent can be returned to their duties, and paid a bonus from the forfeited salaries of their guilty co-workers for having been put under suspicion.

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17 Comments

  1. This is a double edge sword racket by NAIA personnel. If the tanim bala victim agreed to setttle the ccomplaint against him amicably, money change hands. On the other hand, if the victim will fight back, a criminal complaint will be filed against him, The bail bond agent will enter the scene, and will surely pay the police to secure the documents needed to speed up the temporary liberty of the hapless victim.

  2. In a recent video, I made both a plea and a warning to the PH authorities that if they do not address this they can expect tourism to logically divert to other nations in SEAsia. This is not an issue that can survive ‘locality’ thinking where the blind eye is turned and things will continue as always. There WILL be logical consequences if tourists do not feel safe traveling through the PH and it’s effect could take years to recover from. If ever. If for no other reason than self-interest come election-time, politicians should be climbing over each other to be the one to resolve this issue and thus rescue the tourism income so many Filipinos depend on.

    Link to video; https://youtu.be/MNDhNDM04uE

  3. observant nobody on

    We all know the illegal schemes at the NAIA Terminals. Every time I leave the country, I feel like I’ve been milked dry.
    But what about the “legal” milking:
    Travel Tax? Seriously?! Like Nazi Germany.
    Terminal Fees? For these embarrassingly horrendous Terminals? I would bet my left nut, that the Airlines are already forced to pay these fees for each sold ticket.
    The Terminal Fee Virus doesn’t stop at NAIA.
    Am I the only one severely annoyed to pay a Terminal Fee when heading to Boracay, at the Jetty Port? I never spent more than 5 seconds in what they call a Terminal, as everybody is just walking through it on the way to the Boat. (Let’s not start about those Environmental Fees…does anyone know where this money is ending up?)

    But then again, filipinos don’t seem to mind whenever they are dry humped in their rear ends, and keep accepting this treatment from their Government and from their Oligarch-run monopolies.. (PLDT anyone?) and even extend the same treatment to their fellow Filipinos.
    I would suggest it is time to demand change and I would suggest to start demanding these changes first from the man in the mirror.

  4. These so called tanim bala or laglag bala brought up the most vulnerable shame to the Philippine image on the international level. I’ve heard of it from the major int’l news & journals, this madness should SToP! It is a disreputation & mere smear image of the Phils. itself. In my own opinion, this might be a retaliation to OFW’s as well, when it started from the Bureau of Customs blocking BBBoxes, so now targeting innocent OFW’s again. Well ur guess would be good as mine. thanks. THIS MADNESS SHOULD STOP! coz it brings dishonor to the country & it’s image. Aquino Gov’t should intervene to get all theses madness a full termination!

  5. Somebody from NAIA must start talking. Somebody must have known this extortion. This will start of the end on this tragedy. I am sure this is not an isolated case. Also I notice that some Filipinos are so stupid to carry so called amulets anting anting. Watch the interview. They know it is prohibited to bring amulet but they still do.

  6. Simple, as has been enunciated several times: confiscate the item, let the traveller go on….

  7. Involving the NBI will only increase the frequency of using this laglag-bala scheme, or those into this racket will shift to small packets of shabu or cocaine finding its way to the luggage of those sorry victims. It may lessen the number of incidents, but will also necessitate raising the amount extorted from the victims. Why?

    Because now, the “lucky” NBI agents assigned to investigate have to be placated to ensure things remain lucrative for all concerned.

    Cynic? Perhaps. Somebody still has to rationally convince me not to be.

  8. Vic Penetrante on

    Tears will fall on the third step to stop the madness of tanim-bala and we will pity the drama stars.

  9. Perhaps, all hand-carry luggage inspectors should undergo a rigid check before they can enter their work areas, to be sure that no one is carrying a bullet or any contraband to be ‘planted’. Evidence ‘planters’ should be dealt with in accordance with existing laws, in addition to outright dismissal and disqualification for public employment..

  10. What else is there to expect from this Aquino administration and all the president’s lackeys whose standard response to any and every crisis is to downplay everything. Remember these:

    Aquino on not being there to meet the remains of the SAF 44 – “he had a previous commitment to the car manufacturers to attend their car expo” He is the president, he could have cancelled that commitment without even giving any reason.

    Roxas on his visit to Leyte post Yolanda damage – “you are a Romualdez and he is an Aquino”

    Abaya on the ever and over worsening traffic that daily Manila commuters are subjected to every day – “….at least it’s not fatal…..

    Just to name a few. I’m sure anyone of you can come up with more.

  11. pambihira naman ,2015 na mga agimat ay pumasok pa sa utak ninyo!dapat imbestigahan lahat ng nahuli ,sino ang nag-utos sa kanila na magdala ng bala,ok lang sana kung taga bundok ang mga ito at hindi nila nababalitaan ang nangyayari tungkol sa tanim bala ,
    yung mga unang nahuli maaaring tanim bala, pero itong mga huli at sunodsunod,hindi tanim bala ang tawag may nag-uutos at nagbabayad sa mga ito. hindi natin kung bakit ginagawa ito!
    malamang meron may gustong palitan lahat ang mga tao sa NIA,

  12. Being an OFW, I can already sense the anger, frustration, embarrassment and anxiety that OFW’s are feeling especially now that Christmas season is just around the corner. Many for sure, will take their vacation to come home to their loved ones. The OFW’s constitute roughly 10% of our population and that’s a powerful voice in next year’s election. I believe Mar Roxas and Emilio Abaya will be feeling the wrath of the OFW’s and their families when they are rejected at the polls. We cannot allow these inutile people from the current administration to remain in power.