MANILA (UPDATED) - Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and concerned groups have filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against four officials over the "tanim-bala" scam that has victimized passengers including overseas Filipino workers.
Cayetano and his fellow complainants, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and the Network of Independent Travel Agents, are asking for the preventive suspension of the officials who allegedly failed to conduct thorough, proactive, and preventive measures on the bullet planting incidents.
Among the officials prayed to be suspended for Neglect of Duty are:
- Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya,
- Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado,
- Office for Transportation Security Administrator Roland Recomono, and
- PNP Aviation Security Group Director Pablo Francisco Balagtas.
The tanim-bala scam involves the planting of bullets in a victim's bag, which will then be seen via X-ray by an airport security screener. The passenger then has to choose whether to pay a bribe or end up being investigated.
READ: How does the 'tanim-bala' scam work?
The complaint cited the Executive Order No. 226 or the 'Institutionalization of the Doctrine of Command Responsibility in all Government Offices, Particularly at all Levels of Command in the Philippine National Police and all Government Agencies' which states that "government officials or supervisors of any law enforcement agency shall be held accountable for 'Neglect of Duty' under the doctrine of command responsibility if they have knowledge of an offense committed by their subordinates and, despite such knowledge, did not take preventive or corrective action either before, during, or immediately after its commission."
Cayetano said it took a month before the concerned officials acted to solve the tanim-bala racket.
"It took them one month bago mag-meeting at the level ng DOTC para pag usapan yung laglag bala no? Dito sa atin, ang nangyayari, parang in denial pa. Ibig sabihin ayaw pang tanggapin ng gobyerno na may problema. Kung gusto niyo sa gobyerno, magtrabaho kayo. Kung ayaw niyo magtrabaho, mag-resign kayo, kasi kung hindi, kakasuhan kayo," he said.
The senator even compared the DOTC's "delayed" action to the prompt response of the Davao local government when the incident took place in the region.
"Sa Davao City nung nalaman nilang ganito, nagdagdag agad ng pulis, namigay agad ng leaflet. Si Mayor Duterte ang nagsabing, ako in charge dito ako mag-legal aid sa nahulihan ng bala, pakakasuhan natin yan, ipapakain natin ang bala sa naglalaglag bala. So there was someone immediately in charge," added Cayetano.
READ: 'Tanim-bala' irks Duterte: 'Palunok ko talaga ang bala'
Malacañang has promised to investigate the alleged cases of tanim-bala at the country's airports.
The DOTC also convened concerned agencies on Monday to discuss the alleged extortion scheme and Abaya said the department will install four additional CCTVs per station to prevent the scam.
LIST: Passengers allegedly victimized by 'tanim-bala'
Honrado, general manager of MIAA, refused to heed calls for his resignation, saying he will only step down if instructed by President Aquino to do so.
A group of congressmen urged Honrado to voluntarily resign from his post and spare the President from criticism, saying the resignation would allow more competent managers to run the airports.
WATCH: MIAA responds to alarming 'tanim bala scam'
The PNP Aviation Security Group, for its part, claimed that it is impossible to plant a bullet inside an airline passenger's baggage. It also blamed the superstitious use of bullets as amulets for the alleged tanim-bala cases.
Meanwhile, the VACC said a number of sectors are now working to address the alleged movement of syndicate groups in various transportation terminals in the country.
VACC Chairman Dante Jimenez said the concerned security and transportation officials failed to ensure the safety of millions of travelers and OFWs.
"May ginagawa na ang mga sektor dito na naniniwalang may sindikato diyan sa NAIA, dyan sa mga terminal hindi lang sa airport kundi pati sa mga seaports. Sa terminals, akala natin tulad ni Aling Gloria, they will be protected pero hindi pala. They will be harassed. Nagkakaron na po ng paranoia, nagkakaron na po ng panic, ng mga kababayan natin millions nasa abroad," he said.
READ: How to avoid being a 'tanim-bala' victim