Decision Maker Response

Miriam Defensor Santiago’s response


Thank you for bringing to my attention the "laglag-bala scam," an alleged extortion scheme involving personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. I have filed Senate Resolution No. 1635 on Thursday, October 29, seeking an investigation on the scandal.

The modus operandi allegedly involves planting bullets in the luggage of passengers, who are then asked for huge amounts of cash under threat that cases will be pursued against them. The most recent victim is an overseas Filipino worker.

The recent reports are alarming for several reasons. First, it highlights how corruption defeats the purpose of law enforcement. Second, it raises a legitimate question on the implementation of the law on the illegal possession of ammunition. Finally, it underlines inaction on the part of government.

There have been several complaints about the "laglag-bala scam" in the past months, most of them widely reported on by the media. The recent incidents show that the perpetrators of the alleged scam are brazen, perhaps because they know they will not be punished. We must prove them wrong.

We in Congress must ensure that Republic Act No. 10591, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Act, is, on the one hand, properly implemented and, on the other, not abused by enforcers of the law. I have also proposed that we create task force that will investigate alleged illicit activity of state agents at airports, recommend sanctions against those involved, and put in place mechanisms that will deter similar schemes.

This extortion scam counts among its victims the millions of OFWs who see airports as their connection to home. Wrongly accusing them of a crime and forcing them to pay their way out of it is not the way to repay those whom we call our modern-day heroes.