Senate Invites OFW to Hearing on ‘Tanim-Bala’ Scam

MANILA – The Senate has invited the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) allegedly victimized by the “tanim-bala” scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to attend the first hearing on the alleged extortion scheme on Thursday morning.

In an interview on radio dzMM Wednesday, Atty. Spocky Farolan, counsel of OFW Gloria Ortinez, said they have received an invitation to appear before the investigation to be conducted by the Senate committee on public services and the blue ribbon committee.

Farolan is hoping other victims of the tanim-bala modus operandi will also attend the hearing, and that he and their lawyers get to “exchange notes” to see if there is any pattern in their clients’ cases.

“Sana nga po ay magkakita-kita kami nung mga abogado ng ibang mga biktima at yung ibang mga nakasuhan, para rin po sabi nga mag-exchange notes. Baka mamaya may pattern o trend eh,” he said.

Farolan earlier raised the possibility of the bullets supposedly found in the bags of departing passengers as “recycled.”

He noted that the bullet in the photo attached to the complaint filed against Ortinez was different from the actual bullet presented as evidence by two members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Aviation Security Group (AVSEGROUP) and three personnel of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS).

“If the investigation would show and would check on the integrity of the bullets that they have in their possession, baka mamaya makita mo bakit pare-pareho yata?” he said.

“That’s also one of our theories for the discrepancy in the picture which they swore to and the actual bullet that they presented. Baka mamaya meron nang library diyan ng, ito yung quick library for laglag-bala cases, they already have that,” he added.

In the dzMM interview, Farolan lamented anew the supposed questionable process of how Ortinez was treated by airport personnel after a bullet was found in her hand-carry bag at the NAIA Terminal 2 last October 25.

He said the OFW, who was supposed to depart for Hong Kong, where she works as a household worker, was brought to a room where she was forced by three men to admit that the bullet was hers.

The men, who, Ortinez said, had no IDs or nameplates and did not identify themselves, also asked her to sign a document without explaining what was written on it.

Farolan said they are still waiting for the schedule of the hearing for the preliminary investigation on Ortinez’s case. He, however, is hoping that the case will eventually be dropped.

“May mga nanawagan na nga po na dahil wala naman pong private complainant dito, private offended party, at gobyerno lamang ang tumatayo na complainant, baka mamaya makita ng gobyerno na sa halip na idaan sa preliminary investigation, kusa na lang pong iurong ang kaso,” he said.


Meanwhile, Farolan said Ortinez will be leaving for Hong Kong on Saturday, November 14, to personally talk to her employer, a single mother of a 13-year-old child, who initially expressed apprehension about accepting the OFW back amid her case.

He said OFW advocate Susan “Toots” Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, helped raise funds for the 56-year-old Ortinez to be able to fly to Hong Kong.

“Kasi sa dalawang paguusap sa employer na naganap, medyo negative nga po at medyo malabo yung usapan dahil may mga isyu ng komunikasyon at lenggwahe. Pero ang inaasahan po namin, pag nakausap na ni Nanay Gloria ang kanyang employer ng harapan, baka mas mapaliwanagan, magbago ang isip, mas lumambot,” he said.

He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also offered to talk to Ortinez’s employer. The OFW’s camp, however, politely refused.

Farolan explained that they want to “keep the visit as simple as possible,” noting that the employer is a private individual.

If Ortinez’s employer decides not to accept her anymore as a household worker, she will just pack her things and go home.

“Pero kung hindi po ay gagawin namin yung pagkakataon na yun para iimpake yung kanyang mga gamit,” said Farolan.

“Ito nga po yung nakakalungkot. Nung napanood daw siya nung anak sa TV, umiyak, umiyak talaga… Traumatic din po sa bata yun eh,” he added.



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