President Benigno Aquino III has ordered concerned government agencies to ‘watch the watchers’ as regards the implementation of the country's laws on carrying rounds of ammunition in airports and on airplanes amid the laglag bala extortion controversy, a Malacañang spokesperson said on Friday.
Undersecretary Abigail Valte, the deputy presidential spokesperson, said certain measures have been taken to minimize the possibility of unsuspecting passengers being held for planted live bullets for purposes of extortion.
“Apart from the fact na lalagyan ng CCTV, iyong policy nila is talagang hindi na puwedeng hawakan ng mga inspektor ‘yung bagahe para maiwasan ‘yung contact," Valte said in a news briefing.
"At kung magkaroon ng kaso na may makuha, kapag live ‘yung bullet, ituturn-over doon sa PNP Aviation Security Group para masimulan ‘yung proseso. Ngayon, kung hindi naman, malinaw din kung ano ‘yung puwede nilang dapat gawin,” she added.
She said the National Bureau of Investigation was already on deck to conduct their investigation based on Aquino's order.
“Kasi nga ang bilin ng Pangulo ‘you have to watch the watchers.’ So malinaw naman po ang way forward dito at umaasa po tayo with these new steps," Valte said.
"Katulad ‘nung sinasabi natin ‘nung isang araw, ke isa po ‘yan, ke dalawa, ke tatlo, or .01 percent, kung ano po man ‘yung percentage, it is enough that there is one person that is unfairly accused of a crime that he or she did not commit,” she added.
Valte said Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya has been continuously updating the President on the matter.
She was asked 'if watch the watchers' was a new directive of the President and if it meant the DOTC will be investigating the Office of Transportation Security.
"It’s a general statement for government that while there are security measures, we also have to make sure that these measures are implemented properly and that no one is taking advantage," Valte said.
"Kasi ang alam naman po natin ang katayuan po ng Pangulo diyan ay kung maayos ho ‘yung proseso ngunit may umaabuso on both sides, then kailangan hong gawan ng ano ‘yon, gawan ho ng aksyon," she added.
On whether the government is open to accepting reports that there is a syndicate involved, Valte said “all avenues will be pursued and will be investigated."
"Again, the NBI has always proceeded on any investigation with an open mind. So all avenues will be considered,” Valte said.
Obviously reeling from allegations that they are involved in the laglag bala scheme, employees of the OTS held a unity mass at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday morning in the middle of the growing attention focused on the “laglag bala” controversy, according to tweets from dzBB’s Manny Vargas.
The OTS is the DOTC's agency that oversees luggage screeners at the country's airports.
Its personnel continue to insist that they are innocent and that they are not responsible for planting bullets in passengers’ luggage.
“Durog na durog na po 'yung pagkatao namin,” said Edgar Anas of the National Employees Association of Transport Security, adding that even their families have been affected by the laglag bala scandal.
Screening officers also 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. — RSJ/NB, GMA News