The Department of Justice will conduct preliminary investigation on the criminal charges filed against six airport personnel allegedly involved in the tanim-bala or bullet-planting scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, chief of the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service, said the complaint filed by Lane White, the American missionary victimized by the scheme last September, and his stepmother Eloisa Zoleta has been assigned to their Task Force Naia chaired by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.
“The task force will create a panel that will conduct preliminary investigation,” Arellano said in an interview.
Arellano stressed that after the designation of prosecutors in the panel, the respondents would then be summoned and hearings would be set.
The complaint was referred to the DoJ last week by the National Bureau of Investigation team that probed the controversial scheme.
Named respondents in the bullet-planting extortion racket case were Office for Transportation Security personnel Marvin Garcia and Ma. Elma Cegna; and Philippine National Police–Aviation Security Group operatives Police Inspector Adriano Junio, SPO4 Ramon Bernardo and SPO2 Romy Navarro and Rolando Clarin.
The NBI has recommended the conduct of preliminary investigation on Garcia and Cegna for violation of Article 5, Section 3 (B) (Liability for Planting Evidence) under Republic Act 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunitions Regulation Act.
The police officers were charged with violation of Article 293 (robbery and extortion) of the Revised Penal Code, violation of Republic Act 7438, otherwise known as “An Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation and Duties of the Arresting, Detaining or Investigating Officers and Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.)”
The 20-year-old White was arrested last Sept. 17 and charged with possession of a 22-caliber bullet, which was supposedly detected when his baggage went through the x-ray scanner at the Naia.
White said his refusal to cough up P30,000 allegedly demanded by OTS personnel in exchange for his release led to his detention for six days at the ASG detention cell and the filing of charges against him for violation of RA 10591 before the Pasay City Regional Trial Court.
He gained temporary liberty after Pasay City regional trial court allowed him to post a P40,000 bail.
Last week, the court already dismissed the case against him. He already left the country last Monday night.