The Real Score: Here’s why ‘tanim-bala’ won’t happen again in NAIA

Image from Wikimedia

The national government has assured that a reported recent incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was definitely not another case of ‘tanim-bala’ (bullet planting). Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has pointed out that the passenger involved still made it to her flight despite the piece of bullet that was discovered in her luggage.

In a Facebook post, Kristine Moran claimed that on Friday (June 15, 2018), a 9-mm bullet was found in her luggage. She was booked for a Zamboanga City flight that morning. On her account, she narrated that the bullet was found when her luggage went through the x-ray inspection process at the airport’s Terminal 3 in Pasay City. No less than President Rodrigo Duterte immediately ordered airport authorities to probe into the incident and immediately provide results to him.


Not possible

That was when the possibility of tanim-bala was officially dismissed. “If it were a case of tanim-bala, you would not be allowed to leave once a gun was found in your luggage,” said Roque in a press briefing. “The corrupt personnel will extort money from you before they allow you to leave. Of course, the passengers who want to leave, especially the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) will just give in to their demand.”

The recent case could not be considered a tanim-bala case because: 1) the bullet was discovered in the x-ray inspection area; 2) the passenger was still allowed to leave despite the bullet found in her luggage; 3) the passenger did not pay anything just to get a security clearance; 4) the flight was not disrupted; and 5) the bullet was just confiscated without holding the passenger for tedious investigation. Roque explained that there is just no sense for airport personnel to put a bullet into the passenger’s belongings.

Roque added that based on the results of the investigation over the incident, it was found that the passenger did not actually own the luggage she used. It also pointed out that she has a brother who is a policeman and a relative working in the military.


Duterte’s threat

The tanim-bala extortion scheme became rampant in 2015. Based on incident reports, corrupt airport personnel planted bullets into passengers’ things so they can blackmail the latter and force them to pay a huge amount of cash just to be given security clearance. In most cases, passengers were held in interrogation, were illegally detained, and were not allowed to leave.

During the start of his governance in June 2016, President Duterte threatened that he would force airport personnel to literally swallow bullets if they are found to be guilty of tanim-bala. He has always assured that he is serious in his threat.