Ex-cops, soldiers now congressmen: Replace NAIA chief over laglag-bala

MANILA, Philippines – A group of lawmakers who were former policeman and soldiers seeks the replacement of airport manager Jose Angel Honrado following the consecutive incidents of laglag-bala, the planting of bullets by airport personnel to frame passengers at Manila's airports.

The congressmen told reporters on Tuesday, November 3, that they would file a House resolution to pursue a congressional inquiry into the bullet-planting incidents. 

"We want to find out through our congressional inquiry if there are ongoing investigations [by airport management], if there had been measures introduced to fill in the gaps in the security procedure," former police general and now ACT- CIS Representative Samuel Pagdilao said in a mix of Filipino and English.

They also called for the change in the current leadership in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

"We call our President [to] immediately change the general manager – to be replaced by somebody who can measure up to the expectation and the requirement of the job," Pagdilao added. (READ: Palace: 'Laglag-bala' allegations need to be validated)

The group stressed that an action must be done immediately, especially that international leaders and media are coming to the country for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting starting November 16.

"The point is to make the aircraft secure. We have an upcoming APEC event in Manila and it will be ironic if – say one of the international media – will fall victim. Lalo tayo pong nakakahiya (All the more that we will become an embarrasment)," said former military official and now Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano.

Other former policemen and soldiers who faced reporters to call for action on the tanim-bala and laglag-bala incidents were Romeo Acop, retired Philippine National Police general and now Antipolo's 2nd district representative; Leopoldo Bataoil, PNP general and now Pangasinan 2nd district representative; and Ashley Acedillo, former consultant at the National Security Council and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and now Magdalo representative.

Revisit Republic Act 10591

The congressional inquiry will lead to the review of the law on illegal possession of firearms.

According to Pagdilao, there is a need to "re-study" Republic Act 10591, "if there is a need to provide for certain measures to accommodate our situation."

RA 10591, enacted in 2012, states the legal basis for carrying and owning firearms and ammunition.

'Remedial' solutions

As former law enforcers themselves, the group suggested that inspection officers should just release passengers for investigation if they do not seem like a usual violator.

This short-term solution will relieve passengers, who are hurrying to catch their flights, from the hassle.

"If [an officer] will be able to profile that passenger does not fit the usual attributes of a violator – such as intent to possess ammunition, personality, and stature – then they should just be released for further investigation," Pagdilao, speaking for the group, said in Filipino. 

Aside from this, authorities should also look out for corrupt officials who might just be planting bullets to get bribes from the passengers.

Citing that most of the passengers affected are outgoing, the lawmakers pointed out that victims might just opt to pay themselves out of the charges just to catch their flight.

"Baka may pattern na nakikita, may employees na paulit-ulit na nakikita sa listahan," Magdalo's Acedillo said. (Maybe there is already a pattern - employees that regularly appear in the list.)

Transportation and Communications Secretary Emilio Abaya said they had acted upon probable erring officials in the airport service.

"We have terminated and have filed charges against OTS (Office of the Transportation Security) and MIAA (Manila International Airport Authority) personnel before, and will not hesitate to do it at all," Abaya earlier told Rappler. (READ: Gov't won't tolerate 'laglag bala' – Abaya- Rappler.com