By Azer N. Parrocha
MANILA, Nov 4 (PNA) — The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) on Wednesday said that there is no proof that the extortion scheme called ‘Laglag Bala’ or bullet-planting is caused by syndicates.
“We have yet to get any fact that there are syndicates that operate this (scheme),” DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said during a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.
Abaya made the statement in response to questions from media regarding the rise in cases of bullet-planting in NAIA in the recent months.
He pointed out that although it was one of the many possibilities, concerned government agencies have yet to provide solid evidence to validate it.
The DOTC chief meanwhile dodged the question on whether he believed the buzz about the bullet-planting incidents were a demolition job against the government.
“Only a third party, impartial, credible, non-government person can honestly tell us if there is ‘kababalaghan’ or is someone operating behind this,” he said.
Data from the Office of Transport Security (OTS) showed that there were a total of 1,394 cases of ammunition interception incidents recorded in 20 of the country’s airports. Of these, 1,212 cases were recorded in NAIA Terminals 1 to 4.
Last year, there were 1,813 cases of ammunition interception incidents recorded in 20 of the country’s airports. Of these, 1,510 cases were recorded in NAIA Terminals 1 to 4.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Aviation Security Chief Francisco Balagtas said that NAIA Terminals 1 to 4 recorded 139 incidents in 2015 to date, in which people were caught with live ammunition.
Also in Terminal 1 to 4, from March to the present day, only 51 cases have been filed by the PNP Aviation Security Group against those caught with live ammunition as reported to us by the screeners.
Abaya noted that in 2014, there were 34.2-million passengers that passed through NAIA Terminals 1 to 4 from the 53.3-million passengers that went through all Philippine airports.
“If you have 34.2 million passengers who pass through NAIA terminals; and there are 1,510, let’s say 2014, who were caught with ammunition then the percentage of passengers with ammunition versus the total number is 0.004 percent,” Abaya said.
“If you take it from departing passengers alone it is 0.008 percent,” he added, stressing that although it was a small percent of the total passengers, every single incident should be given attention.
He meanwhile assured anew that investigations have been ongoing since Day 1.
“…Whenever we have this kind of grave accusations, it is incumbent upon us, government and authority, to look into the accusations and to make a determination of what actually happened. We cannot let these incidents slide,” he said. (PNA)