4 airport police skip DOJ hearing on ‘laglag-bala’ case
MANILA, Philippines – Four members of the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group (PNP-Avsegroup) did not show up on Monday, December 21, for the preliminary hearing of the complaint filed against them before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The complaint was filed by Lane Michael White, one of several passengers allegedly victimized by the "bullet planting" scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Police Inspector Adriano Junio, SPO4 Ramon Bernardo, SPO2 Romy Navarro, and Rolando Clarin all sent their lawyers on Monday and asked for more time to review the evidence gathered by the National Bureau of Investigation which includes CCTV footages at the airport.
Two other respondents in the case, Marvin Garcia and Maria Elma Cena of the Office of the Transportation Security (OTS), also asked for more time to see the evidence before filing their counter-affidavits. Both appeared before the DOJ on Monday.
The prosecutor gave all 6 respondents until January 8, 2016, to answer accusations against them:
- Garcia and Cena were accused of violating Article 5, Section 38 under Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunitions Regulation Act. This refers to planting an evidence to frame up another person – a crime that merits life imprisonment for public officials.
- Junio, Bernardo, Navarro, and Clarin were accused of violating Article 293 (robbery and extortion) of the Revised Penal Code, the rights of persons arrested, detained, or under custodial investigation under Republic Act 7438, and Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
White, a 20-year-old American missionary, accused NAIA personnel of attempting to extort P30,000 from him and allegedly planting a bullet in his luggage last September.
Instead of going on a flight to Palawan, he spent 6 days at the NAIA Terminal 1 police aviation facility, and was only able to go free after posting P40,000 bail.
The Pasay Regional Trial Court already dismissed a case filed against White, and the missionary already left the Philippines last week.
His experience is just one of the few publicized cases of alleged bullet-planting incidents targeting passengers. The PNP-Avsegroup said at least 30 cases have already been recorded from January to early November this year.
Aside from Garcia and Cena, at least 40 personnel from the OTS are already under investigation for various complaints. – Rappler.com
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