By Genalyn Kabiling
Airport and security personnel will be transferred to Zamboanga if another instance of “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) incident happens at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), President Duterte said.
The President has threatened to relieve the erring airport authorities from their posts and assign them to guard the country’s southern backdoor to deter the entry of terrorists.
“‘Pag may nagtanim bala diyan, I will hold all responsible aviation police, ‘pag may isa pa diyan, alis kayong lahat, papalitan ko kayo [If there’s another bullet-planting incident, I will hold all responsible aviation police. If it happens again, you’ll be removed. I will replace you]. Not only the specific policeman, all of you there will be relieved, and so with the NAIA, all of you there will be relieved,” he said during a press conference in Davao City last Friday.
“I’ll place you in Zamboanga. There’s so much (threat) of entry of terrorists now in the backdoor, dun kayo ma-immigration [go on immigration duty there] see to it that they do not enter the Philippines, that is your job,” he said.
Duterte said if the erring airport and security officers refuse their new assignment, they should just resign from their post.
“If you are afraid to go there, you resign. If you are afraid to die, hang yourself. Magbayad ako sa inyo tapos ganun ang trabaho ninyo, f*cking sh*t,” he said.
The President’s latest statements were directed at protecting travelers, especially overseas Filipino workers from falling victims to corruption anomalies and other forms of abuse.
The country had been previously gripped by the “tanim bala” scam where airport personnel allegedly plant bullets in unsuspecting passengers’ luggage. When passengers are apprehended, scammers allegedly demand money in exchange for their release.
The President has sought to end the “tanim-bala” scam by prohibiting airport and custom authorities from opening the bags of passengers. He said there was no need to re-check the bags after passing the airport security machines.
“I do not want Immigration to abuse and the Customs, and all. I have given my orders, lalo na (on behalf of) mga OFWs, ‘yung mga mahihirap [especially the OFWs, the poor] do not open the bags. No opening of bags anymore in the airport,” he said.
Last month, the President also warned he would fire airport officials in Manila and Clark if another case of luggage theft happens.
He has also pushed for the termination of the government’s contract with aviation service provider following the luggage theft incident at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.