NBI tags 'corrupt OTS officers' in 'tanim-bala'

Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Dec 10 2015 02:39 PM | Updated as of Dec 10 2015 11:10 PM

MANILA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) special task force assigned to probe the "tanim-bala" (bullet planting) scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has confirmed the existence of the extortion scheme.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Undersecretary Emmanuel Caparas said the NBI concluded that the tanim-bala scheme, which has been victimizing unsuspecting passengers at the airport, is being perpetrated by corrupt officers of the Office for Transportation Security (OTS).

The NBI report, dated December 8, 2015, has already been submitted to Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, he said.

"Based on the investigation conducted, the task force concludes that there was indeed an instance of the tanim/laglag-bala scheme. This had been perpetrated by corrupt OTS officers for the purpose of obtaining under duress financial consideration in lieu of non-filing of criminal charges from unsuspecting passengers," Caparas said.

However, Caparas said the NBI report showed that there was no evidence to establish that an organized syndicate involving personnel of the OTS, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Aviation Security Group (AVSEGROUP), and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) was behind the scheme.

"The likelihood of an organized syndicate involving OTS, AVSEGROUP, and even MIAA officers existing and operating at the NAIA was not established," he said.

READ: How does the 'tanim-bala' scam work?

But Caparas, at the same time, did not dismiss the possibility of conspiracy among the personnel operating at the airport.

"I would imagine that if there are several people involved pertaining to one passenger, for example, I would imagine that you would be able to establish some form of conspiracy between the three people, whether or not that conspiracy existed a day before or just few minutes before nakita po nila yung pasahero at biniktima nila," he said.

"That would be subject already now to proof. Ipu-prove po yun. Pero dun po sa mga kilos nila, dun natin malalaman kung talagang nagusap na sila o kumbaga may modus operandi na sila na pag may nakita silang ganun, automatic na yun gagawin nila."

The justice official said the NBI, in the course of its investigation, went through a lot of documents, historical data, and interviewed several passengers and members of the OTS, AVSEGROUP, and MIAA.

NBI agents also spoke to the resource persons summoned to the hearing conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee and the Committee on Public Services.

READ: Airport execs point fingers over tanim-bala

According to Caparas, the NBI still wants to continue its investigation, which, he noted, was only limited to terminals of the NAIA.

The NBI report also does not verify if the culprits behind the tanim-bala scheme are the same people doing the deed over and over, he said. The probe also does not cover aspects of command responsibility, he added.

Caparas said the NBI is now in the process of filing charges related to the tanim-bala scam. He, however, refused to divulge any names.

Caparas, meanwhile, also noted that there are indeed cases of passengers deliberately bringing bullets into the airport. He appealed to the public to stop bringing prohibited items to the airport.

READ: PNP blames belief in talismans for 'tanim-bala' incidents

"We also ask for the riding public to please cooperate with us. Let be responsible also. If we're going to take a plane, ride a plane, again there are regulations, let's follow the regulations naman. Let's not make it difficult for our authorities to do their job," he said.