Would be ‘tanim-bala’ victim takes to social media to decry scammers


By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent

A woman airline passenger may have nipped an attempt to revive the “tanim bala” (bullet-planting) scam at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport when she created a rumpus at the departure area and showed herself to be a government employee too.

Kristine Moran said the bullet was detected when her luggage went through x-ray inspection at the NAIA Terminal 3. Moran claimed the incident happened around 2:30 p.m. on June 15 at the NAIA Terminal 3 Gate 2. She was going to Zamboanga with her child who had just been discharged from the hospital, and her mother who is a senior citizen.

She said after passing the X-ray machine, she was held by an officer who informed her that her bag will be opened for inspection. She obliged, thinking that what they saw was her “black box” or the small equipment used by physical therapists for treating their patients.

Moran added that the officers opened the bag but found nothing. Later on, a 9-mm bullet was found in the front pocket of her baggage. Moran said she lashed out at the airport employees and told them that their “show” seemed not to work on her. She went to social media to denounce the extortion attempt.

News of the incident reached President Duterte who once airport personnel caught in “tanim bala” scam will be made to swallow the bullet whole. Special assistant to the President Christopher Go said Duterte gave NAIA management 24 hours to resolve the incident, which has gone viral on the internet.

“We reiterate that the Duterte administration will never tolerate this modus operandi. We have ordered the concerned agencies to address this within 24 hours. We are expecting them to comply or suffer the consequences,” Go said.

Go reiterated the President’s warning that he will force those who plant the bullets to swallow them whole. “I assure everyone, he will really do it,” Go said.

Airport authorities apparently engaged in damage control. In their version of the incident, they claimed that Moran’s luggage was “still wrapped in plastic” when an x-ray operator noticed a bullet inside the bag as it passed through initial screening before check-in.

The operator then asked a baggage inspector and a policeman to validate the x-ray image of the bullet before Moran was asked to remove the bag’s clear plastic wrap. The bag was supposedly searched in Moran’s presence while screening personnel took a video to allay fears of a “tanim-bala” scheme. The inspection yielded a caliber 9mm ammunition, which was confiscated, said the Department of Transportation.

The Agency said airport personnel assured Moran and her two companions that they will be allowed to board their Zamboanga-bound flight after the documentation process but she “created a scene and uttered foul allegations to the airport personnel.”

Roque said the incident was not a case of “tanim bala” because the passenger involved was allowed to leave.

“It’s not really tanim bala. If it were, you would not be allowed to leave once a gun was found in your luggage. The corrupt personnel will extort money from you before they allow you to leave. Of course, the passengers who want to leave, especially the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) will just give in to their demand,” Roque said.

“In this case, they found a bullet but allowed the passenger to leave,” he added.

Citing investigation by airport authorities, Roque said the passenger has a relative from the military and a brother who is a policeman. It appeared that Moran did not own the luggage that contained the bullet, he added.

The “tanim bala” extortion scheme was exposed during the time of former President Benigno Aquino III. Corrupt officials involved in the scheme plant bullets to blackmail passengers into paying huge sums in exchange for a security clearance.