OFW traumatized by 'tanim-bala' incident


Posted at Oct 29 2015 10:14 PM

MANILA - An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was arrested for allegedly having a bullet in her luggage said she is traumatized by what happened.

Gloria Ortinez, who works as a household worker in Hong Kong, was arrested after a rifle bullet was allegedly found in her bag.

Ortinez, however, said she does not know about the bullet, especially since there was no bullet detected in her bag when she was at the Laoag International Airport.

She was later released without having to post bail after the fiscal's office said the evidence submitted by the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Aviation Security Group is questionable.

PO3 Careen de Padua and PO1 Rommel Ballesteros were removed from their posts after the bullet they submitted to the fiscal's office was different from the one allegedly found in Ortinez's bag.

In an interview on "Umagang Kay Ganda," Ortinez admitted that she was traumatized by the incident.

"Hindi ho nakakakain, hindi nakakatulog," she said, adding that she also fears for her job, especially since she has yet to talk to her employer.

She also reiterated her innocence, saying that the airport officials who apprehended her were forcing her to pick up the bullet which was found inside her bag.

"May nakapa po ako, pagkatapos nagtaas na ang aking boses. Sabi nila, pulutin mo, ayaw ko bakit ko po pupulutin. Kasi ang sa akin, kapag pupulutin ko, siyempre, fingerprint. Kaya noong sinabi ko, fingerprint. Sana kung ang CCTV sana malinaw," Ortinez lamented.

Her lawyer, Atty. Spocky Farolan, said Ortinez has suffered a lot from the incident. She is also forced to stay in the country as long as her case is pending.

"Pwede naman po siyang umalis. Wala namang hold departure order, wala rin naman siya sa watch list order. Ang problema nga lang po, paano kayo makakaalis kung nakabinbin, kailangan mo ring bumalik kaagad," he said, adding they are trying get a schedule with the public prosecutor of Pasay City as soon as possible.

For Farolan, the fact that the fiscal's office found the evidence questionable means that they have a strong chance to prove Ortinez's innocence.

"Kailangan pa rin 'yung possession, may intent to possess. Hindi pwedeng dahil lang nadikit sa'yo, nasa loob, nadikit sa'yo, automatic possession na 'yun. Kailangan may intent to possess, mayroon kang kaalaman na hawak mo 'to, pag-aari mo 'to," he said,

He also clarified that their complaint is not against the whole system, but only against unscrupulous ones who take advantage of airport passengers.

"Hindi po ito pag-aakusa sa lahat ng burukrasya ng ating Transport Safety Office at ng ating kapulisan. Naniniwala po kami at pinapahalagahan po namin 'yung papel ng ating kapulisan sa seguridad. Ang problema po dito, may mali sa sistema. Merong nangyari na ganito, na klaro, para sa amin, klaro na ito ay paglabag sa lahat ng proseso na dapat ay nasusunod. Baka kasi lumalabas na lahat ng pulis ganito, lahat ng OTS ganito," Farolan said.

"Ang problema po sa atin, nawala po 'yung pagiging safe eh, kasi yung kinakatakutan na masasamang loob, mukhang napasok na po ang ating mga airports," he added.

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

'RA 10591 should be revisited'

Antipolo City 2nd District Rep. Romeo Acop, one of the sponsors of Republic Act 10591, or the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition, said authorities should revisit the manner of implementing the law, given the recent incidents involving the so-called "tanim-bala" scheme.

"Sa dami ng insidente, dapat 'yung mga awtoridad na nag-iimplement nito, dapat bisitahin nila 'yung kanilang systems and procedures, para naman hindi maging oppresive ang batas, kasi ang nangyayari, nagiging oppresive tuloy 'yung batas," Acop said in an interview on radio DZMM.

"Halimbawa nahulihan ka ng isang bala, dapat yung imbestigador tingnan niya lahat ng circumstances noong taong nahulihan ng bala," he added.

For Acop, the investigator should have the wisdom to determine whether there is enough reason to file a case against a suspect, based on facts he gathered.

"The law may be harsh, but it's still the law. 'Yung imbestigador ay siya po ang nakakaalam ng buong pangyayari. So, ang sabi, dapat gamitin niya 'yung utak niya para ma-appraise niya nang buong katotohanan. If the investigator should find out from the facts that he has taken, may probabilidad na 'yung tao naman ay talagang hindi niya kasalanan, the investigator has the discretion na huwag nang file-an ng kaso. Kung sa tingin niya ay talagang may basehan na file-an niya ng kaso, eh 'di file-an niya ng kaso."

He added that every investigation report should always be reviewed by a higher official before filing a case.

"It has to be reviewed by the Chief of the Investigation Division, nirereview po 'yan bago ifa-file ang kaso."

"Sa akin, PO1, PO3, I don't even know if these gentlemen from the PNP na gumawa ng IR (investigation report) have graduated from 'yung investigation school. Kasi kailangan mag-graduate, at doon itinuturo sa investigation school na ang unang gamitin ng mga tao ay yung kanyang utak, 'yung imbestigador. At based from the circumstances na nakuha niya, doon niya i-aapply 'yung kanyang puso. Kung sa akala niya, sinasabi ng kanyang utak na, ito alanganin eh, so it is at that point that the investigator has the discretion," Acop said, adding that it is also important for policemen to be well-trained in investigating similar cases.

Acop said he has already asked for a review of the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10591, adding that he is willing to propose amendments in light of recent events.

Under RA 10591, a person charged with unlawful acquisition or possession of firearms and ammunition is punishable with imprisonment, regardless of the number or amount of ammunition recovered from his or her.