A lawmaker has filed Tuesday a measure to decriminalize the mere possession of not more than three bullets in an effort to eradicate the “Tanim Bala” scam hounding the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA),
Vice presidential candidate and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo filed House Bill 6245, otherwise known as Iwas Tanim Bala Bill, which aims to put an end to the Tanim Bala modus operandi, safeguarding passengers in NAIA from harassment and extortion.
“Let’s stop this scam and ensure the safety and well being (of) the passengers in NAIA,” she said.
Robredo made the move after a number of passengers have been arrested in NAIA for possession of bullets in their luggage.
— Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo) November 3, 2015
Those arrested were not allowed to board their flights, preventing them from reaching their destination. According to news reports, these arrests are part of a scheme done by Airport staff to extort money from passengers in the airport.
“This scam has affected a number of our countrymen and foreigners who were on their way to another country or to other places in the Philippines,” Robredo said.
According to Robredo, aside from extortion, it also abridges our constitutionally guaranteed right to freely travel by preventing passengers from catching their flights and damages reputation of the Philippines since several of the victims have been foreign tourists who were in the country for their vacations.
Related story here: ‘Tanim-bala’ scam in NAIA upsets Aquino, probe soon
“Further occurrences of the Tanim Bala scam will severely hamper our efforts to bolster tourism since NAIA is the gateway to the country,” Robredo said.
A counterpart measure in the Senate has been filed by Sen. Bam Aquino. (PNA / By Sammy F. Martin)
— Alan Peter Cayetano (@alanpcayetano) November 3, 2015
Earlier, independent vice-presidential candidate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday filed a complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman calling for the suspension or dismissal of Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya for neglect of duty and command responsibility, MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, Office for Transportation Security Administrator Roland Recomono and the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group head, Pablo Balagtas.
On the the other hand, even Malacañang has downplayed the alleged existence of an extortion syndicate at the country’s airports. It said many travelers caught with bullets in their bags had said these were (used as) amulets.