“This bag is bullet-proof. #StopTanimBala.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – “Pangontra.”
Overseas Filipino workers and Filipino immigrants leaving via the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 gladly accepted and placed on their luggages the stickers that read “This bag is bullet-proof. #StopTanimBala.” They hope the stickers would repel any attempt to victimize thru laglag-bala.
The stickers were handed to them by members of Migrante Partylist.
The so-called “laglag-bala” or “tanim-bala” (planted bullet) scheme has shaken the country’s international airport, long listed as one of the worst airports in the world. In this scheme, bullets are inserted in bags of passengers allegedly by airport personnel as a means to extort money.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma responded to strong public outcry, especially among Filipino netizens, by saying that this was “just a few people.” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda even appealed to the public “not to politicize the issue.”
Dodong Bredias, a seafarer for the past 20 years, said this was the first time he heard of such a scam. He was among the first who accepted the stickers, hoping that it would give him luck and spare him from the laglag-bala scheme.
Newly-weds Julius and Elisa Udad parted at the NAIA 2 and the latter told Bulatlat.com that they spent several days thinking of ways to “bullet-proof” his suitcases. In the end, Elisa said, she advised her husband not to leave his luggage behind nor agree to look after things from other passengers.
“I am really worried about him. The scandal has so far spared no one and even victimized an elderly,” Elisa said, waving one last time at her husband. She was referring to 65-year-old Nimfa Fontamillas who was set to fly to Singapore to watch her grandson play football. But she was held at the airport after a live .9mm bullet was found in the side pocket of her bag.
One couple was initially reluctant to accept the stickers, thinking that these were being sold to them. The woman then called on her Caucasian husband and said, “This is about the one we saw on the news, about that scandal.” The two later on agreed and placed the stickers in all of their bags.
Filipino-American Nick Capili asked for nearly a dozen stickers from Migrante Partylist volunteers and placed it in all of his boxes, luggage box and even on his guitar.
“This is for safety. I just want our country to be in peace. I love our country and want to retire here someday,” he said.
Migrante Partylist campaign coordinator Arman Hernandez told the media that the stickers were meant to alarm the perpetrators that their modus operandi has been busted.
Hernandez said this latest scandal is yet but another “kotong” (extortion) on OFWs and Filipino immigrants.