PAO opens hotline for victims of bullet-planting scam

Rappler.com
PAO opens hotline for victims of bullet-planting scam
PAO chief Persida Acosta also says those found guilty of planting bullets in passengers' luggage may be criminally charged

MANILA, Philippines – Travelers and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have fallen victim to the alleged “laglag-bala” or bullet-planting scheme at the airports are encouraged to contact the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) for legal help. 

PAO chief Persida Acosta said those who have been accused of carrying bullets in their luggage may call the PAO hotline at 929-94-36 or 029299436.

In recent weeks, passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have complained of a scam where airport security personnel allegedly planted bullets in their carry-on bags in order to frame them and extort money.

The scheme has drawn international attention, prompting a backlash from various sectors, including OFW advocate groups, and public outrage. (TIMELINE: Recent cases of alleged bullet scam at NAIA)

Acosta also warned those who are found guilty of planting evidence against a person, such as a bullet, that they may be criminally charged under Article 363 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC. 

Public officers or employees may also face the penalty of reclusion perpetua under the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act or Republic Act 10591.

Article 363 of the RPC states: “Any person who, by any act not constituting perjury, shall directly incriminate or impute to an innocent person the commission of a crime, shall be punished by arresto menor.”

Section 38 of RA 10591 states: “The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any person who shall willfully and maliciously insert; place, and/or attach, directly or indirectly, through any overt or covert act, any firearm, or ammunition, or parts thereof in the person, house, effects, or in the immediate vicinity of an innocent individual for the purpose of implicating or incriminating the person, or imputing the commission of any violation of the provisions of this Act to said individual. If the person found guilty under this paragraph is a public officer or employee, such person shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.”

In response to the incidents, transportation authorities have vowed to investigate those behind the alleged scheme. 

At least 40 personnel from the Office for Transportation Security are under investigation for various complaints, while the National Bureau of Investigation has formed a special task force to probe the alleged scam.

Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo have filed bills in the Senate and House, respectively, seeking to decrminalize the acquisition, possession, and carriage of 3 bullets or less in the country. (READ: Bam Aquino, Leni Robredo file bills vs ‘bullet planting’ scam Rappler.com

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