A young first-time visitor to the Philippines was detained for five days by airport police at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for allegedly carrying a bullet in his check-in luggage.
20-year-old Lane Michael White was travelling with his father and stepmother when they were stopped at an X-ray scanner in Terminal 4 at NAIA.
Found in his luggage was a .22 caliber bullet from the pocket of his luggage after repeatedly scanning it on an X-ray machine.
He denied the bullet belonged to him, saying that he had no idea how it got inside his luggage. Then, a security guard told him that his problem would ‘go away’ if he paid 30,000 pesos.
White and his family refused to pay up and denied the accusation.
White and his family, who are missionaries, said in a statement: “God endured the pain when he was being whipped at the cross and if I need to be detained just to prove my innocence so be it.”
Just last week, two bullets were mysteriously found in the luggage of a balikbayan. A wheelchair-bound female said she paid 500 pesos to the airport security personnel to allow her to depart the country.
Officials have suspended the X-ray scanner operators and ordered the suspension of those involved until pending investigation into the matter is resolved.
White said he has already hired a lawyer to answer to the charges against him. He said he was thinking about pressing civil and criminal charges against the people who attempted to extort money from him.
Airport security said they have already disbanded a notorious gang known as the “Laglag Bala” gang from airport management – but like most things in Manila, it appears that corruption is alive and well.
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