THE Palace brushed aside Tuesday any political motives behind the widening scandal over an extortion racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in which bullets are planted in luggage to bilk money from travelers.
“You know, let’s set aside any political color and we will look into the data as objectively as we can. We just want to make sure that we presented the entire picture properly,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, when asked about suggestions from Aquino supporters that the entire affair was the work of the political opposition.
“The DoTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) will inform us of the entire picture, the data, the process and areas for improvement. I don’t want to preempt DoTC,” Lacierda added.
Lacierda also denied reports that Manila International Airport Authority genaral manager Jose Angel Honrado was summoned by President Benigno Aquino III to the Palace to explain the bullet-planting incidents.
“No. He was not summoned today,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said some measures—such as the installation of additional closed-circuit TVs—have been taken.
He added that the DoTC will also respond to a complaint filed by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Lacierda played down threats by militant group Migrante, to boycott the administration’s Liberal Party during elections.
“You know, it’s a free country. What we’re going to do is we are going to tell, within this week, what measures the government will be taking, and the DoTC will be announcing it… We hope… the DoTC will be able to convince our countrymen, our OFWs, that measures are being undertaken and it’s not true that we are not doing anything about it. But, again, we leave it to the judgment of each and every voter,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda and a spokeswoman for the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group, Supt. Jeanne Panisan, also said some Filipinos were carrying bullets as “anting-anting” or bullets.
In a briefing at Camp Crame, Panisan said some Filipinos deeply believed the bullets would ward off evil spirits.
At the airport, personnel of the Office of Transportation Security said they were demoralized by the tanim-bala scandal that is being blamed on their group.
OTS team leaders Melinda Lansangan, Seferino de Ocampo and other OTS personnel assigned at the Naia terminals said that recent events had caused them so much embarrassment, and that they felt their leaders had abandoned them amid the controversy.
Facebook users even posted comments and even threatened with physical harm.
Lansangan said they are being persecuted in public while the case is still being investigated.