Goodbye, ‘tanim-bala’!

The travelling public may now pass through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) without worrying about finding ammunition in their stuff.

Tanim-bala, the notorious bullet-planting scheme that gave Philippine airports a bad name, will now (hopefully) be a thing of the past, since President Rodrigo Duterte has prohibited transport officials from detaining, charging and arresting passengers with bullets in their luggage. 

(To be fair, the Office for Transportation Secretary had already started doing this in May.)

This leaves no room for extortion and harrasment. The important detail? No firearm must be confiscated together with the ammunition. 

“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,” said Senior Superintendent Mao Aplasca, new director of the police Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup).

Passengers witth bullets, however, have to undergo immediate profiling to clear them of links to any terrorist or criminal group. Those with no criminal intention will be allowed to board their flights. 

Even before the start of the presidential campaign, Duterte said that he will have the perpetrators of tanim-bala swallow bullets.

An American traveller and an elderly couple were among the numerous victims of the alleged scam. 

As early as May this year, the Office for Transportation Secretary has been “experimenting on a scheme in which passengers found with a lone bullet in their luggage would be allowed to board their flights after surrendering the bullet,” according to a Jun 1 Philippine Star report.

“We ask them (passenger) if you still want to leave. If they say yes, then we will ask them to open their luggage and get the bullet and surrender it to us, then we will let them go,” Bienvenido Denros, OTs team leader at NAIA Terminal 1, had said then.

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