The notorious bullet-planting modus operandi at Ninoy Aquino International Airport can now be considered a thing in the past after President Rodrigo Duterte barred authorities from arresting passengers whose luggage contains ammunition.
Senior Superintendent Mao Aplasca, the newly-appointed director of the police Aviation Security Group, said Thursday that travelers would not be detained or charged in court if an ammunition is confiscated from them, as per Duterte’s order.
Travelers caught in possesion of the bullet will instead be subjected to immediate profiling to determine links to any terrorist or criminal group, and of criminal intention in carrying the prohibited item. They would then be allowed to board their flight as long as no firearm is confiscated along with the ammunition, Aplasca added.
“Laglag-bala modus operandi is a thing of the past and we assure the public that they no longer worry that they will miss their flight or get arrested at our airport for possession of an ammunition,” he said.
Until the recent mandate, passengers caught with bullet in their possession are detained by airport police, and forgoing their travel plans. The “tanim bala” scam allegedly involved airport staff who plant bullets into the luggage of unsuspecting passengers. Once apprehended, scammers reportedly extort passengers in exchange for their release.
Even before the presidential campaign, Duterte said if he were the country’s president, he will have the perpetrators of the scam swallow bullets as he appealed to President Benigno Aquino III to personally address the matter as this has caused embarrassment for the country.