One bullet in baggage enough to get passenger arrested: Sec. Abaya

Incoming passenger Rey Salado puts a bullet of unknown caliber in a plastic evidence bag at the Ninoy Aquino Interntional Airport Terminal 3 Arrival area on Wednesday. Salado admitted ownership of the bullet and said he was keeping it as a good luck charm to ward off evil spirits.(MNS photo)

Incoming passenger Rey Salado puts a bullet of unknown caliber in a plastic evidence bag at the Ninoy Aquino Interntional Airport Terminal 3 Arrival area on Wednesday. Salado admitted ownership of the bullet and said he was keeping it as a good luck charm to ward off evil spirits.(MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Office for Transportation Security (OTS) officers are required to arrest passengers found with live ammunition in their baggage, even if it’s just one bullet, said Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

If the bullet were just an empty shell, which according to Abaya is a popular souvenir, then OTS officers simply confiscate it without making any arrests.

However, if the bullet has the four components required for live ammunition, even without a gun, the passenger has to be arrested. If the OTS officers don’t follow protocol, they can be sued.

Abaya added that the DOTC will be holding a meeting on Monday morning, November 2, to discuss the issue.

In the “laglag bala” scheme, suspects, supposedly airport personnel, slip bullets into the bags of passengers in order to extort money in exchange for dropping charges.

Three lawmakers have already petitioned for the firing Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Angel Jose Honrado, citing the growing number of laglag bala incidents.

The latest victim was a 65-year-old woman named Ninfa Fontamilla on her way to Singapore to watch her grandson compete in a youth football tournament. A bullet was found in the outside pocket of her luggage. Her daughter Menchu Tan, who was traveling with her mother, denied the bullet was theirs.

“At the first instance that this laglag-bala scam was exposed by the media, we expected concrete and immediate action, but unfortunately, Honrado was content making excuses for the shenanigans inside the airports he manages. Honrado must be removed if we really want to reform the image of our airports,” said Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles.

Malacañang is looking at having additional CCTV cameras in airports as a possible solution to the problem and said that they are coordinating with DOTC. (MNS)

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