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NBI files raps vs 'tanim bala' schemers

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(Photo from update.ph)


MANILA â€” The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed criminal charges against six airport personnel – two from the Office of Transportation Security (OTS) and four from the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup) - for their alleged involvement in the "tanim-laglag-bala" scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).


Named in the complaint for violation of Article V Section 38 (liability for planting evidence) under Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act were OTS personnel Maria Elma Cena and Marvin Garcia.

Charged for violation Article 293 (Robbery/Extortion) of the Revised Penal Code, Republic Act 7438 (An Act Defining Certain Rights of Person Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation and Duties of the Arresting, Detaining and Investigating Officers) and Republic Act 3018, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, were PNP-Avsegroup Senior Police Officer 2 Roland Clarin and Police Chief Inspector Adriano Junio, SPO4 Ramon Bernardo and SPO2 Romy Navarro.

The NBI based the charges on the complaint filed by Eloisa Zoleta and her stepson Lane Michael White, who reported being victimized by the illegal scheme this September at NAIA, where they accused the respondent airport personnel of trying to extort P30,000 from them in exchange for the release of White and the dropping of the case filed before the Pasay City regional trial court (RTC) against him after a .22 caliber bullet was allegedly found on his luggage when it went through the X-ray scanner at NAIA Terminal 4 on their way to Palawan.

White managed to gain provisional liberty after the Pasay RTC allowed him to post bail and lowered the amount from P80,000 to P40,000.

In a related development, NBI officials confirmed that, while some erring airport personnel were engaged in the extortion racket, it appears that no organized syndicate was behind it.

Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Emmanuel Caparas said this was indicated in the report submitted by the NBI task force created by Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa last month to find out if a syndicate was behind the racket.

"The likelihood of an organized syndicate was not established. Based on what they've gathered at this point, they cannot definitively say. Syndicate implies many people acting together in unison or following a plan, and the NBI cannot establish that," Caparas said in a press conference Thursday.

But Caparas stressed that the NBI is not yet ruling out the possible existence of a syndicate, since the NBI investigation is not yet done. "At this point, they (NBI investigators) said they want to continue their investigation, so even they want to find out more," he said.

At the same time, Caparas said the DOJ is working with other government agencies to "evolve rules" on passengers getting caught allegedly in possession of ammunition so that those apprehended with just one bullet will not be covered by existing laws.

"We will now try to evolve rules for people with just one bullet. There is a legal regulation for us to comply with that effectively," he said, adding that, "unfortunately, some opportunist officials made use of our laws to victimize innocent passengers."

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