‘Tanim-bala’ at Tuguegarao Airport victimizes mayor

Published July 23, 2019, 10:33 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Marjaleen Ramos

Alcala, Cagayan Mayor Cristina Antonio appealed on Tuesday to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to conduct a fair investigation on the alleged “tanim-bala” that victimized her at the Tuguegarao Airport in Cagayan.


“Please conduct a fair and partial investigation, kasi ano po yung basehan na sinabing may natagapuan, na merong bala, yun lang pong salita ni Mr. Bulan, wala namang cctv, wala namang x-ray, ” Antonio said.

“On our part, wala talaga kaming ganon, at talagang ilalaban namin, na wala po kami ganung bala. Lumalabas pa na kami ang may kasalanan,” she said.

Antonio also denied that they have a gun. “Naku wala po, wala po kaming baril, wala pong dala ang aming mga kasama. Hindi po kami naniniwala sa ganon. We are are just ordinary, simple people. Maliit lang po na bayan ang Alcala.”

“Ako very confident ako na truth will really come out pag tinignan yung mga ganong objective na basehan,” the mayor said.

On July 15, Antonio and her family were scheduled to fly to Manila. She said they went through the first X-ray machine at the airport departure area entrance without any incident.

Antonio said she was holding her 10-month old baby so it was her housemaid who placed their hand-carry backpacks to the second x-ray machine at the boarding gate area entrance.

She said she was called by the x-ray operator and showed the image of a bullet in one of their bags.

Antonio said that the image of the bullet was seen in their baby’s bag but instead of pointing at it, the security personnel singled out their housemaid’s floral backpack.

She said she and her housemaid searched all the compartments of the bag and found nothing, but when the security personnel, identified as Herbert Bulan, inserted his hand into the bag’s exterior pocket, a bullet came out.

Antonio added that Bulan even volunteered to not report the incident.

“My suspicion was confirmed. We are the victims of tanim-bala, and the guy was asking for bribe money, no doubt about it. My God,” the mayor said.

Despite the commotion,  Antonio said two policemen seated merely five feet away from her were acting nonchalant as if nothing was happening.

“I am dismayed that some Tuguegarao airport officials have resorted to victim-blaming and shaming — dapat daw kasi hindi kami nagdadala ng bala sa airport. At best, that’s prejudgment; at worst, those officials are probably in cahoots,” she said.

“I repeat, I would never bring anything dangerous near my ten-month old baby. Please also look at the cohesion, detail, intrinsic credibility, and merit of our account.”

Antonio said she and her husband have already written complaints to the DOTr and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

“I can’t believe I have to justify and defend ourselves like this. It’s like being victimized all over again,” Antonio said.

“We were played for fools. And the whole time this was happening, I was holding my baby. Evil was unfolding in front of my baby. Saan ko naiturturog. I feel sick in the stomach.”

On Monday, the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) denied that the “tanim bala” extortion attempt at the airport involving Antonio ever took place.

“The incident involving Security Screening Officer Herbert Bulan (baggage inspector who was accused by Mayor Antonio of asking for bribe money) was in fact, baseless,” it stated.

It also said that, Bulan, with 12 years of service in government, was found without any derogatory record.

“On the other hand, the OTS assures the public that any attempt to extort, or ask for any material items in exchange for allowing any prohibited item will not be tolerated nor ignored. “