No cop jailed yet for planting bullets – Recto

BLACK EYE TO GOV'T. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto wants a Senate probe into all the alleged modus operandi of NAIA personnel preying on passengers.

BLACK EYE TO GOV'T. Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto wants a Senate probe into all the alleged modus operandi of NAIA personnel preying on passengers.

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President pro-tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday, October 28, revealed that not one cop has been sent to jail for planting a bullet to frame up another person – a crime that merits life imprisonment for public officials. 

"Isang bala lang, hindi ka na sisikatan ng araw sa tagal mo sa bilangguan (Just one bullet, and you won't see the light of day as you stay jailed for a long time). Our research of Napolcom records showed that not one cop has been sent to jail for committing this crime," he said.

His statement comes days after another passenger was allegedly victimized by the "bullet planting" scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

This time, a 56-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) named Gloria Ortinez was arrested and prevented from leaving the country for Hong Kong after authorities at NAIA 2 claimed to have found a bullet wrapped in red cloth inside her bag.

The arrest triggered public outrage. Senatorial aspirant and longtime OFW advocate Susan Ople also called for Ortinez’ release, and noted that the series of alleged extortions and scams at NAIA is creating a "climate of fear" among returning migrant workers.

Ortinez has denied that the bullet was hers. Ortinez also said that she would never bring the bullet with her as she was well aware of Hong Kong's strict security laws.

On Wednesday, Recto said the source of temptation when it comes to "tanim-bala" is the law itself.

To stop this scam, he urged a review of the law to "refine" the penalty for illegal possession of ammunition – prision mayor, from 6 years and 1 day to 12 years. He said this penalty "may be too harsh for a single bullet."

He also hit authorities for "parading" as criminal a "hapless OFW who's been caught with one bullet" when the "true criminals" go unscathed. Every day, he said:

In addition, Recto cited a study that estimates there are 1.9 million unlicensed firearms in the country. Another study by the United Nations and a Norwegian group even revealed the country imported 434,999 guns from 1996 to 2010.

"These are the lethal weapons – especially those in the hands of criminals – the authorities should look for, not rusting bullets inside the luggage of OFWs and tourists…. Ang malaking problema ay hindi ang paisa-isang paglabas ng bala, pero ang pag-smuggle ng libo-libong baril," he said.

(The big problem is not the individual bullets, but the smuggling of thousands of guns.)

A month ago, the senator seeking reelection in the 2016 elections already filed a resolution calling for a Senate probe into this "bullet planting" scam at Philippine airports.

"The probe I seek does not only cover 'tanim-bala' incidents but other scams which inconvenience, swindle or defraud passengers who use the nation's principal gateway," he said in his statement Wednesday.

"A Senate investigation is needed because agencies operating in NAIA have failed to curb the abuses on their own.* There is no working system that is 'guarding the guards'."  Rappler.com