The Anti-Tanim-Bala Guide: What You Should Know and Do

Traveling to or out of the PH?

Republic Act 10591, also known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, prosecutes those found guilty of violation malum prohibitum—regardless of intent.

The last few months have found an alarming rise in cases of possession of bullets at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by unlikely individuals who claim no knowledge of these bullets and allege that the ammunition was planted in their luggage, giving voice to the “laglag” or “tanim-bala” scam.

This new issue has only served to reinforce NAIA’s status as one of the worst airports in the world.

Here’s what you should know:

The Modus Operandi

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The scam goes like this: You plan a trip out of town or out of the country, only to be stopped at the airport because the X-ray technician has found one or two bullets in your luggage. You have no idea where the bullets came from and have no desire to miss your flight and ruin your travel plans, but the penalty for possession of said bullets is incarceration. So you take the airport personnel’s offer when they tell you that you can pay an exorbitant amount of money just to make these magically appearing bullets disappear.

The Victims

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Anyone can fall victim to this scam; Japanese touristsforeign missionaries65 year old grandmothers and even our very own OFWs. Over 30 cases of unlawful possession of ammunition have been reported from January to early November of this year, a spike from last year’s low of only 12 cases. The scandal took off when the media picked up the story of a 56 year old OFW travelling back to Hong Kong being detained for two days after being apprehended by the Office for Transport Security (OTS), which is directly under the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

PNP Denial

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PNP’s Aviation Security Group (AvSeGroup) maintains their stand that planting bullets into passenger bags would be impossible for their staff at NAIA, stating that the OTS is the body responsible for screening. They further stated that some passengers are bringing these bullets as lucky charms or agimat, summarily dissuading passengers from bringing them. A petition has been initiated, calling for President Aquino’s attention to the matter. Pres. Aquino has since called for the DOTC to conduct a thorough investigation.

“International Embarrassment”

Time Magazine and BBC have both reported the scam, inciting outrage among netizens at the lack of action from authorities. Malacañang has since downplayed the scam, calling them “isolated incidents.”

Susan Ople, a Senatorial hopeful and long-time OFW rights advocate, has called for attention to the matter, reasoning that the scam is creating a “climate of fear” among OFWs who have been looking forward to their trips home for the holidays.

This article was originally published on 8List.ph. Read the rest of the list and learn how to protect yourself from the scam here.