Honrado: ‘So far no evidence’ of syndicates at airport

Airport security screeners wear pink armbands during a Mass at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday. The security screeners appeal for public understanding while investigation of the "tanim-bala" scam is underway. (MNS photo)

Airport security screeners wear pink armbands during a Mass at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday. The security screeners appeal for public understanding while investigation of the “tanim-bala” scam is underway. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado said there is no proof yet that a syndicate is operating inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, where several instances of “laglag-bala” scheme has been reported.

In a television interview on Thursday, Honrado said, “So far we don’t have evidence indicating [that] syndicates are working at the airport.”

He added: “But opportunists, yes.”

Before this, Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the “laglag-bala” modus appears to “have been blown out of proportion.”

Abaya said the government is trying to strike a balance between ensuring the safety of passengers at the NAIA, and boosting the already low morale of airport personnel due to alleged planting of bullets or “laglag bala” modus.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report on Thursday, however, said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has confirmed that an extortion syndicate is carrying out not only the “laglag-bala” scheme, but also harassment of airline passengers through scrutiny of travel documents.

The NBI, under the order of Justice Secretary Benjamin Caguioa, is carrying out an investigation on the “laglag-bala” scheme, following recent reports of travelers being held at the airport after bullets were found in their luggage or bags.

The DOJ announced on Wednesday that it has created a seven-member team from the NBI to do this.

The Inquirer report quoted a source from the NBI as saying that initial findings from the said probe revealed that the syndicate involves “some porters” who identify potential victims and “accomplices in the security and immigration services take over from them” inside the NAIA.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that aside from planting bullets inside the luggages of victims, “the racket also covers supposed questionable documents and purpose of travel of passengers.”

The syndicate targets “who they see as gullible and could easily be bullied,” mostly overseas Filipino workers, as well as the elderly, the source added.

The NBI task force is directed to “act with dispatch” and submit findings to Caguioa within 15 days. (MNS)

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