The National Bureau of Investigation will conclude this week its investigation on the alleged bullet planting extortion racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, a Department of Justice official said on Sunday.
DoJ spokesman Undersecretary Emmanuel Caparas said the NBI special task force on tanim/laglag bala (Talaba) is expected to submit its report on Wednesday.
“The report by the NBI Task Force Talaba will be released on Dec. 9, if not earlier,” Caparas said in a text message.
The DoJ initially gave the team until Nov. 18 to complete its fact-finding probe.
However, the team led by NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division Head Agent Manuel Antonio Eduarte failed to meet the deadline, citing conflicting data from concerned agencies and unavailability of their officials for interview due to the security preparations for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last month.
The justice department granted a request for extension and gave the team another 15 days to submit its report.
Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa directed the team “to probe all incidents of the alleged laglag-bala scam at the Naia and to similarly undertake a case build-up on the possible criminal and/or administrative liabilities of all individuals and agencies involved, whether public or private.”
The team was also tasked to trace reported victims of the alleged scheme and document their cases.
Caparas said the NBI is looking into the possibility that the incidents are part of a plot to sabotage or discredit the administration, supposedly in relation to next year’s general elections.
President Benigno Aquino III, for his part, downplayed the bullet planting incidents, saying the issue was being sensationalized and that extortion claims at the airport have not yet been proven.
Aquino said only about 1,200 out of 34 million passengers every year have been apprehended for possession of ammunition at Naia.
The Public Attorney’s Office has so far assisted some 30 individuals caught with bullets at the airport since last month.
Complaints against 18 of them have been dismissed for lack of intent to possess the bullet and use it for criminal purposes.
Some of the apprehended persons insisted they were victimized by a syndicate, while others admitted carrying bullets as amulets.