MANILA (Mabuhay) – Amid calls for President Benigno Aquino III to remove General Manager Angel Jose Honrado from office, efforts should instead be turned to sacking those directly involved in the “laglag-bala” extortion scheme, the spokesman of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said Monday.
MIAA spokesman David de Castro said, “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.”
He also said 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.
The Philippine National Police Aviation Security (PNP-AVSECO) is also checking whether its officers are involved in the scheme, De Castro said.
He added that as per protocol, “we automatically revoked the access passes for all
OTS (Office of Transportation Security).”
During a separate press briefing on Monday, De Castro said at least 40 personnel from the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) have had their access passes revoked as they face investigation for various complaints.
Aside from complaints about the “laglag-bala” scheme, some other complaints involve extortion issues, while others “just didn’t follow procedures.”
“Hindi sila puwedeng pumasok sa airport,” he said. “In fact, some cases go back to year 2010, since hindi pa nare-resolve ng OTS ang cases. We can’t return the passes to these personnel.”
De Castro pointed out, however, “Parang ang pangit tingnan kung wala tayong protection for these workers also. Made-demoralize sila if they were removed immediately from their post.
“There are many personnel [who] are dedicated to their jobs; we can’t immediately remove them [from their posts],” he said.
De Castro said that as of Monday, at least five people have been named alleged victims to the scheme.
On Sunday, three lawmakers urged President Benigno Aquino III to fire Honrado over the growing number of travelers victimized by the “laglag-bala” scheme.
The scheme involves the discreet dropping of bullets, supposedly by airport personnel, into the bags of unwitting passengers to extort money from them upon apprehension.(MNS)