The Public Attorney’s Office has sought the transfer of the case involving an elderly couple from the Department of Justice to the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office.
The couple claimed to be the latest victims of the alleged bullet-planting scheme at the airport and countered with charges of extortion against three personnel of the Office of Transport Security.
In a letter to Prosecutor General Claro A. Arellano, PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta stressed that it is only necessary to transfer the case against Salvacion Cortabista, 75, and husband Esteban Cortabista, 78, before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office because the city prosecutor is the vice chairman of the Special Task Force created by the DoJ.
Acosta also argued that the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City also has jurisdiction over the case in the event that a criminal action will be filed against the couple.
The Cortabistas were supposed to go to the United States to seek medical treatment for their severe arthritis when they were stopped at the airport after an ammunition was discovered in the handbag of Salvacion.
They already filed a criminal case against the wheelchair attendant Niño Namba and x-ray screeners Ferdinand Morales and Fatti Dame Go of the OTS before the Pasay Prosecutors’ Office.
The couple insisted that Namba, Morales and Go conspired to plant a bullet inside Salvacion’s handbag to extort money from her.
After the bullet was discovered, the couple said Morales told them, “‘Mahina ang P50,000 dyan [P50,000 would be a small amount for that],’ clearly intimating that they should pay in order for Salvacion to be able to board the aircraft.”
“At that point, I looked at Ferdinand Morales, held my red belt bag and told him ‘one hundred twenty pesos lang ang pera ko (I only have P120 with me),” she said.
The couple said that during the incident last April 19, they noticed Morales obviously signaling to Go, while only Namba held their bags for inspection.
The Cortabistas insisted that the bullet found in their bag was planted, adding that they passed through the initial security checkpoint twice without the bullet detected by airport authorities.