Aquino forced to act on ‘laglag-bala’

President meets DOTC officials amid bullet in luggage allegations

President Benigno S. Aquino III attends the 17th Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibit at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City on Thursday (October 29). This year’s theme: “Asia Fast Forward”. Also in photo are Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and Philippine Retailers Association President  Lorenzo Formoso. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III attends the 17th Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibit at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City on Thursday (October 29). This year’s theme: “Asia Fast Forward”. Also in photo are Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and Philippine Retailers Association President Lorenzo Formoso. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday morning met with officials of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) amid allegations of the “laglag-bala” extortion scheme.

“The President has been briefed and has given further instructions in order to refine the efforts under way. The DOTC as the lead agency will be updating the public,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a text message to reporters.

Over the weekend, Lacierda said President Aquino and Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya had already ordered an investigation into the alleged “laglag-bala” scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Lacierda said that Abaya had instructed the installation of additional closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the NAIA terminals.

President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the 17th Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibit at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City on Thursday (October 29). This year’s theme: “Asia Fast Forward”. Also in photo are Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Federation of Asia Pacific Retailers Association Chairman Melmet T. Nane and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the 17th Asia Pacific Retailers Convention and Exhibit at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City on Thursday (October 29). This year’s theme: “Asia Fast Forward”. Also in photo are Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Federation of Asia Pacific Retailers Association Chairman Melmet T. Nane and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras. (MNS photo)

Ninfa Fontamillas, 65, was apprehended on Sunday and placed under custodial investigation after a bullet was detected inside her bag.

When the aviation authorities opened her luggage in the presence of her lawyer on Sunday, she broke down in tears as a bullet was found in her bag.

Three lawmakers urged Aquino to sack Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado over the alleged growing number of “laglag-bala” extortion victims at the airport.

The MIAA, meanwhile, said that it will focus on going after those possibly involved in the extortion scheme.

“It would be good to focus our efforts on the investigation and removing the people directly involved in the matter rather than removing those who are working to resolve it,” said MIAA spokesman David de Castro.

He added that measures have been put in place to address the issue, including heightened surveillance, and concerned agencies—including the MIAA—conducting their investigations on the matter.

In a press conference at the Philippine National Police’s headquarters in Camp Crame, Aviation Security Group spokesperson Superintendent Jeanne Panisan said they have not proven the “laglag-bala” allegations.

“Sa imbestigasyon na ginagawa, wala pa kaming napatunayan na mayroong nagtatanim ng bala,” she said.

“Ang nagdadala lang ng bagahe ay pasahero maliban na lang kung magre-request siya ng porter. After that ilalagay sa conveyor belt para sa screening kung saan siya rin ang magbubuhat ng bagahe, maliban na lang kung may porter,” she added.

She said there is no chance for their personnel to plant bullets into the passengers’ baggage.

“Kung nagkataon na ang operator (ng x-ray) may makitang ipinagbabawal na dalhin, pipicturan ng baggage inspector ang monitor, tatawagin o hihintayin na i-claim ng pasahero ang baggage at sasabihin na may nakita. Saka tatawagin ang PNP AvSec.  Saka bubuksan yung baggage sa may inspection table at ang magbubukas ay pasahero. Kung positive na na-identify ay iimbitahan na ang pasahero sa opisina,” said Panisan.

She added that the presence of airport policemen are not required at the screening area, explaining that their responsibility is to provide police visibility and maintain peace and order at the airport.

“Wala po kaming papel pagdating sa security screening. Hindi kami naglalagay ng bagahe sa xray. Tinatawag lang kami pag may violation sa procedure,” she said. (MNS)

DOTC as the lead agency will be updating the public,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a text message to reporters.

Over the weekend, Lacierda said President Aquino and Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya had already ordered an investigation into the alleged “laglag-bala” scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Lacierda said that Abaya had instructed the installation of additional closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the NAIA terminals.

Ninfa Fontamillas, 65, was apprehended on Sunday and placed under custodial investigation after a bullet was detected inside her bag.

When the aviation authorities opened her luggage in the presence of her lawyer on Sunday, she broke down in tears as a bullet was found in her bag.

Three lawmakers urged Aquino to sack Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado over the alleged growing number of “laglag-bala” extortion victims at the airport.

The MIAA, meanwhile, said that it will focus on going after those possibly involved in the extortion scheme.

“It would be good to focus our efforts on the investigation and removing the people directly involved in the matter rather than removing those who are working to resolve it,” said MIAA spokesman David de Castro.

He added that measures have been put in place to address the issue, including heightened surveillance, and concerned agencies—including the MIAA—conducting their investigations on the matter.

In a press conference at the Philippine National Police’s headquarters in Camp Crame, Aviation Security Group spokesperson Superintendent Jeanne Panisan said they have not proven the “laglag-bala” allegations.

“Sa imbestigasyon na ginagawa, wala pa kaming napatunayan na mayroong nagtatanim ng bala,” she said.

“Ang nagdadala lang ng bagahe ay pasahero maliban na lang kung magre-request siya ng porter. After that ilalagay sa conveyor belt para sa screening kung saan siya rin ang magbubuhat ng bagahe, maliban na lang kung may porter,” she added.

She said there is no chance for their personnel to plant bullets into the passengers’ baggage.

“Kung nagkataon na ang operator (ng x-ray) may makitang ipinagbabawal na dalhin, pipicturan ng baggage inspector ang monitor, tatawagin o hihintayin na i-claim ng pasahero ang baggage at sasabihin na may nakita. Saka tatawagin ang PNP AvSec.  Saka bubuksan yung baggage sa may inspection table at ang magbubukas ay pasahero. Kung positive na na-identify ay iimbitahan na ang pasahero sa opisina,” said Panisan.

She added that the presence of airport policemen are not required at the screening area, explaining that their responsibility is to provide police visibility and maintain peace and order at the airport.

“Wala po kaming papel pagdating sa security screening. Hindi kami naglalagay ng bagahe sa xray. Tinatawag lang kami pag may violation sa procedure,” she said. (MNS)

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