MANILA, Nov. 2, 2015— To stop the bullet planting modus, a Catholic bishop has called on the government to revisit the law and subject airport security personnel to lifestyle checks.
According to Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, authorities should investigate those who are tasked with inspecting baggage, especially those who apprehended the alleged “bullet carriers.”
“They should look into their work records and lifestyle,” he said.
Taking advantage of the law
The scam, which has victimized local and foreign travellers, has drawn foreign media attention and placed the Philippines at the center of a fresh controversy involving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The prelate also said the “tanim-bala” scam has been taking advantage of the law that prohibits and penalizes the bringing of restricted items such as bullets out of the country.
While the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, may have the welfare and security of the country at heart, he said, it has been “exploited” by some airport security personnel who want to extort money from passengers.
“Perhaps it is time for our lawmakers to revisit this law to make it clearer and more effective in warding off the real security threats to our country and not be used by criminal-minded people to prey on the innocent,” he said.
Santos chairs the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
In earlier news reports, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the issue should be put in proper context since there are only a few affected passengers compared to the thousands of daily arrivals at the NAIA.
Instead of seeing them as mere isolated cases, however, the CBCP official strongly urged the Aquino government to quickly put an end to the growing problem.
Nevertheless, Malacañang has assured the public that the reported cases of bullet-planting are being addressed.
“We once again call on our government officials to put an end to this shameful practice; investigate and punish those who are behind this,” said Santos.
The bishop also said no amount of downplaying from the government can allay the fears of the public, especially the overseas Filipino workers and foreign tourists.
“The airport authorities seem to dismiss these as small incidents but ‘tanim-bala’ is a big thing to our OFWs. It should be a big thing for our country’s reputation because it gives lie to the tourism slogan, because there is no fun in extortion,” he said. (CBCPNews)