Acosta threatens to file 'planting of evidence' raps
MANILA - The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) has threatened to file counter-charges against personnel and officials of the Office for Transport Security (OTS) and Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP) if they do not cease from filing criminal charges against victims of the "tanim-bala" scare at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport passenger terminals.
Attending the preliminary investigation hearing on the charge against overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Gina Maliwat at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, PAO chief Atty. Persida Acosta warned the OTS and PNP-AVSEGROUP against filing complaints against victims of the bullet-planting modus, reminding them that mere possession of a single bullet does not constitute the crime of illegal possession of firearm.
Maliwat was charged for possession of one caliber-45 bullet last January 2 as she was on her way to depart for Macau where she is employed as a domestic helper. She was allowed to leave by the inquest prosecutor while the case was referred for preliminary investigation.
"Pag hindi pa sila tumigil, mapipilitan na kami magsampa ng kaso at rumesbak... planting of evidence ang ikakaso. Nakakapagod na. Mga taga-PAO pagod na, mga prosecutor pagod na. Nakakatawa na ang bansa natin," Acosta told reporters at a chance interview.
Acosta said 32 cases against individuals allegedly victimized by the "tanim-bala" modus have already been dismissed by inquest prosecutors of the DOJ.
In her counter-affidavit sworn before the Philippine consular office in Macau, Maliwat said she passed the initial X-ray screening at NAIA Terminal II, but it was during the final screening that she was informed a bullet was founding at the outer pocket of her shoulder bag.
She denied that she owns the bullet.
"I have no intention to possess or handle bullets. I don't deal with bullets of guns, considering that I am a mere domestic helper whose dream/intent is to work abroad to help support my family financially.
Maliwat also stressed that in People of the Philippines vs. Placido Mesa, "[t]he essential element of illegal possession is animus possidendi, which means intention to possess in order to use the [bullet] in one way or another."
The case against Maliwat was already submitted for resolution by Asst. State Prosecutor Clarisa Kuong.
Also in attendance during the hearing were representatives from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Oversease Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
*Incidentally, the DOJ also simultaneously heard the case filed by American Lane Michael White vs several OTS and PNP-AVSEGROUP who arrested him for bullet possession. White's camp filed their reply, reiterating that the charges against respondents are strong and should not be dismissed.