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‘Tanim bala’ shames us

“Tanim bala” is further eroding people’s faith in this administration.  If not immediately stopped, this can also make us lose face in the eyes of the world. 

Three cases that landed in the news in one week! These do not even include an earlier incident involving a young American missionary who now wants a reinvestigation of what happened to him. I wonder how many more were kept hush-hush because victims chose to pay up to avoid more trouble.

Not only is the Ninoy Aquino International Airport among the worst in the world in terms of facilities and services, it is also home to criminals in uniform ironically entrusted with the task of keeping the airport and the people there secure. 

What else can go wrong? I know that there are many ways to extort from travelers but I did not imagine that these scalawags would go this low. This is too much. 

This week, two of their victims were elderly women. One is in her mid-50s, an overseas Filipino worker who was off to another stint in Hong Kong, and the other, a 68-year-old who was on her way to Boracay. I am purposely omitting their names here because I believe they are victims, not criminals. Both were arrested because “authorities” “found” one bullet each from their hand-carried bags. Were they chosen because the perpetrators thought that they would not speak a word and just give in and pay because they are women and advanced in age? 

Imagine the stress, the pressure, and frustration the victims must have felt and still feel. Imagine how aggravated their families must be feeling. 

The OFW was on her way to work. With a case against her now, how is she going to leave the country and attend to this legal problem at the same time? If she loses her job, even if she is acquitted, (which I think will happen because the bullet she was accused of carrying was different from the one presented as evidence by Naia personnel) who will take care of her and her family’s needs? What about opportunity loss?

And how do we expect the 68-year-old to face the case that is said to be filed against her? I hope she is healthy, but what if she has a health condition? The bullet that she is accused of illegally possessing is live. If nothing drastic happens, she will most probably be charged. I dread to think of how she will be able to handle the court battle.

The other two reported cases involve foreigners—the American missionary and a Japanese tourist. Most definitely, “tanim bala” is not part of the world-renowned Filipino hospitality. Our good reputation as a people is being ruined because of this. 

Why do I believe that the accused are innocent? I have several theories.

One, all of the cases involves bullets. Why not drugs, or guns? In three of the four, a single bullet is said to have been found in carry-on bags. Why bullets? Is it because they are tiny and can be very easily planted in bags? Why not a box of bullets? Why didn’t the accused have guns? If someone wants to do something criminal, what can a bullet without a gun do? 

As the Supreme Court Spokesperson Ted Te posted on Facebook, is there a conspiracy to smuggle bullets in the country, one bullet at a time? Is this not idiotic? Yet at least four people were arrested because of this. 

Two, it is fund-raising season. It could be for Christmas, or if this is a bigger operation, maybe for elections as pointed out by some. I, however, am inclined to believe that it is the former than the latter. There are many ways by which unscrupulous airport personnel scam travelers and this could be one of the new ones. They may be raising funds so they can celebrate the holidays.   

We should note that this is the time when a lot of our OFWs go home to be with their families during Christmas season. It is also a peak season for tourist arrivals. 

Three, if this is not borne out of negligence of authorities, it can also be that a group is trying to discredit this government. Thus, this could also be politically motivated, a well-planned operation. The fact that these incidents happen a few weeks before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here make me suspicious. As earlier stated, “tanim bala” puts the country, not just this administration, to shame. 

The Apec event is of major proportions. Because these incidents have already been reported by international media, we can only guess what the international community is thinking as regards security in our lands. My friend Pinky Campiglio joked that US President Barack Obama should be told to have his bags cling-wrapped to avoid any problem when he enters the country.

Joking aside, this got me thinking. What if indeed this is a “shame government” operation? What if someone big is “caught” with illegal “stuff” at the Naia? Is government thinking of this? I know that there are different protocols for arriving dignitaries but if “tanim bala” is part of a bigger oplan, government should leave no stones unturned. 

Maybe I read too much about conspiracy theories. Maybe my imagination is running wild and getting the better of me. I hope this is the case. I would rather that “tanim bala” is merely a small-time operation of Naia personnel who just want a quick buck. 

Whatever the case maybe, President Aquino and his people should put a stop to this. Yes, I am calling on the President because the stakes are high. Do whatever is needed to be done to address this. There is no time to lose, or we lose our face. 

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Topics: Ninoy Aquino International Airport , NAIA , Tanim bala ,
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