No arrest of passengers caught with bullets only, says new Avsegroup chief
MANILA - The alleged bullet-planting scheme in Philippine airports may now be a thing of the past after President Rodrigo Duterte prohibited authorities from arresting passengers for bullets in their luggage.
Senior Superintendent Mao Aplasca, new director of the police Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup), said Thursday that travelers would not be detained or charged in court if an ammunition is confiscated from them, as per Duterte's order.
Passengers in possession of ammunition will instead undergo immediate profiling to clear them of links to any terrorist or criminal group, and of criminal intention in carrying the bullet.
They would be allowed to immediately board their flight provided that no firearm is confiscated together with the ammunition, Aplasca added.
"Laglag-bala modus operandi is a thing of the past and we assure the public that they no longer worry that they will miss their flight or get arrested at our airport for possession of an ammunition," he said.
The "tanim bala" scam allegedly involves airport personnel who plant bullets in unsuspecting passengers' luggage. Once the passengers are apprehended, scammers reportedly ask for money in exchange for their release and record-free passports.
READ: Some OFWs now fear going home
Even before the presidential campaign, Duterte said if he were the country's president, he will have the perpetrators of the scam swallow bullets.
READ: 'Tanim-bala' irks Duterte: 'Palunok ko talaga ang bala'
He had also urged President Benigno Aquino III to personally address the matter as this has caused embarrassment for the country.
Aplasca said the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the transportation department will form a joint team that will conduct regular security planning for airports.
Avsegroup is the main unit that maintains security in more than 80 airports across the country.