The “tanim-bala” extortion scam has put the country once more in the radar of the national community. Several of our own kababayan and foreigners transiting the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have been victimized by the scheme. It is suspected that Naia security personnel plant bullets in the luggage of unwary passengers, who were then apprehended and made to choose by arresting officers if they want to be criminally charged or “settle the matter” by giving over a large amount of money. This scandal comes at the heels of the recent controversy over the now-aborted policy by the Bureau of Customs to inspect the packages of our overseas Filipino workers.
This issue has become another major national embarrassment, a fact that Malacañang refuses to recognize, to the extent of calling the extortion scam as an “isolated case.” As former Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael Alunan III so clearly stated in his response to the callous and foolhardy statements of Malacañang mouthpiece Sonny Coloma—“it is not a question of how few the incidents are, but the global publicity it gets that sabotages our well-being because of inaction against the root causes of the people’s discontent.” So far this year, there have been a total of 84 incidents of ammunition found in luggage and bags of airline travelers at the Naia alone.
It is not farfetched to conclude that tourists will now think twice before traveling to the country. No less than the United Nations has warned its staff to exercise extra caution when transiting the Naia due to the scam. Many porters at the Naia have also been affected, claiming that since the scam was reported, their income has been cut in half.
What is infuriating is the government inaction and inefficiency to solve this extortion scheme which primarily targets outgoing overseas workers. Obviously our present leaders from de buena familias do not know the hardships that our overseas workers go through just to secure their work abroad.
Although there may have been incidents where tourists have admitted to owning the bullets found in their luggage, these are, in reality, the isolated cases and not the other way around. The recent news showing that some used it as amulets is obvious damage control by this administration. To justify it, as Sonny Coloma and the rest of the yellow media propagandists have done, is a direct affront to the intelligence of the Filipino public.
Why the heck would anyone just carry one bullet in their luggage? Also, a whistleblower has already spilled the beans on the syndicate operating the “tanim-bala” racket inside the Naia for some 20 years already. This would make those involved readily identifiable simply by conducting a lifestyle check. A simple check at their social media accounts would reveal who are living significantly beyond their salary. If government were really serious in protecting our overseas Filipino workers and tourists, why did it take several weeks before Malacañang actually lifted a finger—and only after legislators have joined the public outcry to seek for an investigation over the matter? Is this how PNoy wants to repay our OFWs for keeping the country afloat in the last five years under his term?
All these just demonstrate the useless, uncaring and arrogant manner of how government is being run by this administration. Our experience with this administration proves that leaders who grew up with silver spoons in their mouth have a different reality than the rest of us, hence their policies which cater only to the interests of their cabal.
We need not suffer a continuance of this in the coming six years. Let us, without hesitation, champion the plight of our OFWs and that of the entire Filipino people, and put our support behind leaders with a proven track record and a true sentiment and identity with the poor.