Baggage Handling Rules Revised to Curb Tanim Bala in PH

MANILA: In the wake of an alleged bullet planting scam, the Philippine Department of Transportation and Communications has revamped certain baggage handling procedures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, a senior government official has said.

The alleged scheme involves airport security personnel planting bullets inside the bags of unsuspecting passengers, with the intention of detaining and extorting money from them, reported Inquirer.

The scandal, also known as the “tanim bala” scam, has placed the spotlight on conditions at NAIA, the country’s main gateway, which in the past had been cited among the world’s worst airports by certain blog sites, the report said.

It also reportedly comes at a time when the country has been moving to address congestion issues as it seeks to lure more foreign visitors.

“We continue our investigation and info gathering to ensure any operation of tanim bala, if ever there is any, is addressed and halted,” Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya reportedly said.

Abaya reportedly said on Monday that certain baggage handling procedures were modified “where only passengers handle them.”

He added that the government has started installing closed circuit television cameras in the screening stations. He said larger signs warning passengers about carrying ammunition would likewise be installed.

Abaya also downplayed the incidents.

“We briefed the President on the statistics since 2012 and we’ve shown there hasn’t been any change in ammunition incidents (souvenirs/shells/necklaces/live ammo) until 2015,” Abaya was quoted as saying by the news portal.

He reportedly said some of the apprehensions stemmed from lapses by the passengers themselves.

“There also was an OFW [overseas Filipino worker] whose mom placed a bullet in the bag of her daughter truly believing it is an amulet that will provide her protection,” Abaya was quoted as saying by Inquirer.

“Another passenger borrowed a bag from a colonel and live ammo was left in the bag.”



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