Solons want MIAA chief sacked over 'tanim-bala'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 01 2015 05:07 PM | Updated as of Nov 02 2015 01:56 AM

MANILA - A group of congressmen on Sunday called for the resignation of Manila International Airport Administration (MIAA) general manager Angel Jose Honrado amid alleged cases of ''tanim/laglag-bala'' or bullet-planting at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The lawmakers insisted that Honrado should spare President Benigno Aquino III of criticism by voluntarily resigning and allow more competent managers to run the country's airports.

Davao City Rep. and House Committee on Labor chairperson Karlo Alexei Nograles said Honrado is causing pain and anguish not only to the Aquino administration but to the entire nation as well.

Nograles reminded Honrado that the country's international airports, especially the NAIA, are the nation's windows to the world.

Reports of the laglag-bala scheme and other extortion ploys, however, have made the Philippines a subject of worldwide ridicule, Nograles said.

The lawmaker went on to blame Honrado's "negligence" and "insensitivity" for the crisis.

"At the first instance that this laglag-bala scam was exposed by the media, we expected concrete and immediate action but unfortunately, Honrado was contented making excuses for the shenanigans inside the airports he manages. Honrado must be removed if we really want to reform the image of our airports," Nograles said.

"Travelers using our airports are now too terrorized that they even wrap their luggage with masking tapes just to stop NAIA people from planting bullets into their bags. This is really embarrassing. No airport in the world can you find this kind of paranoia. Only in the Philippines," Nograles said.

READ: 'Paranoid passengers' secure bags with plastic wraps 

Nograles said Honrado must be removed from office if only to show that the Aquino government is really determined to reform the airport sector and stop the alleged tanim-bala practice.

Nograles also believes that with the onset of the campaign season, Honrado's continuing presence in the government will likely hurt the administration's bets to win the 2016 presidential elections.

"Honrado's incompetence and this laglag-bala cases at the NAIA will be an election issue. His name is now synonymous to laglag-bala and this will be his image for the rest of his life. The entire Aquino government might just earn the same tag if he is not removed as MIAA general manager," Nograles reasoned.

ABAKADA Partylist Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, on the other hand, said Honrado and all other officials involved in the operations and security of NAIA and other international airports should all submit their courtesy resignation, especially in the light of the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leader's Summit.

"Even as we are rushing with our last-minute preparations for APEC, we must enjoin all the heads of agencies in charge of operations and security at the international airport to submit their courtesy resignation. We need to put in an entirely new crew in charge of inspection and security and file charges against those involved in this laglag-bala operation," Dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz also claimed that the tanim-bala plot at the NAIA is a syndicated "one money, one fund" operation involving personnel from the Office of Transportation Security (OTS), MIAA and the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP).

"It is a syndicate that is involved not just in extortion but also in smuggling. It is big business and Honrado definitely knows all about their operation," Dela Cruz said.

OFW Partylist Congressman and presidential aspirant Roy Señeres also urged President Aquino to remove Honrado and revamp the entire MIAA, OTS and the PNP-AVSEGROUP.

"A full blown reorganization is needed if indeed President Aquino is serious in his declaration that he would put a stop to this laglag-bala practice at the NAIA. His so-called 'daang matuwid' government is losing credibility because of people like Honrado," Seneres pointed out.

"How can anyone believe in Aquino's claim that he is winning the fight against corruption when wholesale corruption exist right in our airports?"

Señeres also encouraged the Office of the Ombudsman to step in and conduct a lifestyle check on Honrado and all other MIAA, OTS and PNP-AVSECO officials and personnel.

The Palace earlier promised it will investigate alleged cases of tanim-bala at the NAIA.

READ: How to avoid being a 'tanim-bala' victim

The alleged scam was first exposed in the media in September, when a Facebook post of a balikbayan who claimed to have been victimized by the tanim-bala scheme went viral.

The wheelchair-bound balikbayan said she paid P500 to the airport security personnel to allow her to depart the country.

An American tourist was also detained after a bullet was found in the pocket of his luggage. He also claimed being victimized by the same scheme.

Public rage against the alleged modus operandi was reignited late October when an ABS-CBN News exclusive report revealed that a long-time Hong Kong overseas Filipino worker was arrested at the NAIA after a bullet was found in her bag.

Several other alleged "tanim-bala" incidents had been reported since then.