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Amid hate over laglag bala, inspectors show quiet love with pink ribbons


 

Despised by passengers over the laglag bala extortion some of their colleagues are suspected of committing, luggage inspectors and other personnel of the Office of Transportation Security on Friday came up with a show of quiet love.

Screening officers from the OTS wore pink ribbons around their right arms as they went about their tasks.

"Kahit na hindi love ang ipinapakita nila sa amin, love namin sila. Kasi ganu'n ang trabaho namin. Una muna ang pagmamahal namin sa mga pasahero dahil 'yun po ang sinumpaan namin -- na lahat po ng pasahero ay secure na makarating sa kanilang paroroonan," OTS supervisor Nannet Ramos told GMA News.

"Kung sino man po ang magsasabi [ng mga bagay] against sa amin, tatanggapin po namin 'yun," she added.

Airport personnel, particularly screening officers, have been accused of carrying out the modus, which involves placing a bullet or several rounds of ammunition in the luggage of a victim without his knowledge.

The victim would then be confronted with allegations of illegal possession of ammunition during the screening process. The perpetrators would then ask for cash in exchange for letting the apprehended passenger go.

The scheme has drawn anger in the social media and attention from the international community.

However, Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said the laglag bala scare appears to "have been blown out of proportion," which may lead to "those tasked with our security to suffer from lower morale."

OTS administrator Roland Recomono said 11 of his personnel are already under investigation for the extortion scheme.

Hopeful

Still, Ramos said she and her colleagues are hopeful that the controversy will die down.

"Medyo nabawasan na po 'yung ganoong (negatibong) pagtingin sa amin dahil may nagpapatotoo na kanila po 'yung mga nakukuha sa bag nila na bullet," she said.

She added: "Tingin ko po matatapos rin po yan kasi may ginagawa naman po yung mga mataas sa amin, ginagawa naman kung paano kami ipagtanggol."

However, some airline passengers who spoke with GMA News Online said they remain doubtful of airport personnel because of the issue.

"They are not nice, they are very impolite," said Vina Vagatsulon, a Filipina traveling to Thailand.

Thumbs down

"A big down for them," she also said, with matching thumbs down, adding that she didn't believe the officers are being demoralized.

Christita Estopa, who is flying to Taiwan, said she believes some are really involved in the modus.

"May gumagawa talaga. Imposibleng wala. Ika nga, kung walang apoy, walang usok," she said. "Mas nakakatakot ngayon. Parang wala kang dapat pagtiwalaan."

First-time seamen Julius and Denmark told GMA News Online not all security personnel are involved, though they would not trust the said officers, as in everyone else at NAIA.

Syndicate?

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Jose Angel Honrado denied that a syndicate was operating to conduct the modus.

However, a source from the National Bureau of Investigation cited initial findings of the probe for the issue that says otherwise.

An ammunition interception report released to the media said 1,394 cases were recorded so far this year.

Data from the OTS, meanwhile, said 3,325 bullets were found in passengers' baggage at NAIA from January to August 2015.

Five people arrested at NAIA for bullets found in their luggages have been released.

However, three others were caught with bullets at Terminal 3 on Thursday afternoon. They were the bullets were used as anting-anting. -NB, GMA News

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