The bullet-planting scam at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has just stepped up a level – on Tuesday alone, four people, including an elderly Filipino-American passenger, were taken into custody for having bullets in their luggage.
Authorities said “not one of them disputed the claim brought against them”.
The only person to dispute the fact was the 77-year-old Santiago Peñaflorida’s daughter, who claimed in disbelief that the ammunition found her in father’s bag had to be planted.
Santiago Peñaflorida was said to be headed to Los Angeles, California aboard Philippine Airlines.
He was stopped at 6pm at the initial security screening checkpoint at NAIA terminal #2 after security personnel saw the bullet on X-ray monitors inside his locked backpack.
His daughter went ‘ballistic’ and accused security personnel of planting the ammunition in his bag. Security officials refused to open the backpack and waited until members of the media arrived.
Peñaflorida calmly stated that they had already departed from the Iloilo Airport before landing at NAIA where no bullet was detected or discovered.
Once the duo decided to open the backpack themselves, a .32 calibre bullet was discovered inside. Peñaflorida was invited for questioning to the Avsegroup-NCR headquarters.
The bullet was discovered at 9.30am in her hand-carry-on bag after it went through X-ray at the initial security screening checkpoint at the departure area at gate #2.
Espinola told security officials that she had brought the bullet with her after discovering it in Quezon City, she said she did not know that it was a prohibited item at the airport.
At 2pm on Tuesday, 33-year-old Rowena Otic of Nueva Ecija was sending off her one sibling bound for Dubai when she was intercepted at NAIA terminal #3 for carrying two .38 calibre bullets, each one placed in a separate red pouch.
Otic told reports that she always carries the bullets as protection against hexes or any other forms of danger. She admitted that she forgot to take them out of handbag, saying: “I also thought only passengers were inspected and arrested for having bullets.”
Two hours later, at 4pm, 48-year-old Milagrosa Candiente was apprehended at gate #6 in terminal #3 after a 9mm calibre bullet was discovered in her wallet.
Once again the bullet was encased in a red pouch. She admitted that she knew the bullets were banned from the airport but she forgot to take her ‘charm’ out of her bag.
Cadiente said she was at NAIA to pickup her employer who was returning from Japan. She called on lawmakers to amend the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act and consider Filipino’s observance to tradition.
“It is just stupid to put people in jail for having one or two bullets. They have to understand that Filipinos carry them as charms,” she angrily noted.
All four suspects are set to be charged with illegal possession of ammunition under the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act in the Pasay City prosecutor’s office.
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