A furious President Duterte has ordered an urgent probe after the alleged return of the ‘planted bullet’ scam at Manila’s airport.
The so-called ‘tanim-bala’ trick involves customs officers planting bullets into people’s luggage, before demanding a fine to “make the problem go away”.
It had been a source of national embarrassment under the previous administration, particularly after it prompted Fox News to dub the Philippines “the lamest country in the world”.
Among President Duterte’s first acts upon assuming office was to warn staff that the scam would no longer be tolerated.
Yesterday (Friday, June 15) a Facebook user called Kristine Moran complained of falling victim to the trick at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
In response, president assistant Christopher Go told reporters today that the president expected “all concerned agencies” to submit their reports on the incident within 24 hours, or by 5pm tomorrow.
He emphasised: “We are expecting them to comply or face the consequences.”
Ms Moran, who described herself as a government employee, wrote on Facebook that she and some of her relatives were departing for Zamboanga City when the tanim-bala incident took place. She wrote:
“Upon check in and passing by X-ray I was held by the officer that my bag was to be for opened for inspection. I obliged thinking that they saw the ‘black box’ that I have inside it (a black box is a small equipment in Physical Therapy we use for treating our patients ). I placed my bag and the man with the grey sweater help me and even help me opened my bag. He opened it and got an item my daughter’s jumpsuit saying ‘etu yun’ but there was nothing in it. The other officer said ‘buksan pa natin’ to my shock and dismay I saw a bullet inside the front pocket of my baggage. It was I tiny bullet (9 mm) goodness!!!”
Ms Moran added that she was furious and started yelling at the officers. She said that what made her particularly angry was the fact that her child, who had just recently discharged from the hospital, and her mother – a senior citizen – were with her.
She stressed she knew she was not carrying any contraband.
“Tanim-bala is real!!!” she fumed.