MANILA, Sept. 28, 2015— A Catholic bishop has criticised what he called “shameful” acts by some airport personnel who allegedly extort money by planting bullets in luggage.
Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos is alarmed over “tanim-bala” incidents reportedly perpetuated by some security personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“These are shameful and criminal acts of extortion that prey on our citizens, especially our balik-bayan and Overseas Filipino Workers, and also our guests from foreign lands who arrive in our country,” he said.
Santos chairs the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
He said the Church understands that security personnel have a duty to perform, especially in enforcing laws concerning contraband items.
“However, they should not use these same laws to extort money and prey on the innocent, and even allow those who are guilty to go scot-free,” he said.
“Our security personnel should concentrate on protecting the passengers and ensuring their safety, rather than harassing them,” Santos added.
The prelate also called on the government to investigate these incidents “thoroughly, rigorously and diligently.”
“They should make sure that everything comes to light and those who are guilty be brought to justice,” he added.
At the same time, the bishop asked the OFWs and travellers to exercise a high degree of caution during any sort of travel.
He advised travellers to make a list of the contents of their bags and boxes and take pictures as they pack them.
“When accosted by security personnel, be ready with your cell phone to take pictures or video,” he also said.
“Insist that you be the one to open your luggage while the security people watch. If they insist on opening your luggage, watch their actions and take pictures. Make sure that you take down their names,” said Santos. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)