DOJ creates Special Task Force ‘TaLaBa’ to probe 'Tanim-bala' scam at NAIA

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has created NBI Special Task Force ‘TaLaBa’ (Tanim Laglag Bala) to probe on the controversial scam at the NAIA.

Philippine Karate Team
Philippine Karate Team at NAIA. Photo Credit: ABS-CBN News

DOJ Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa issued Department Order No. 887 dated Nov. 3, 2015 to evaluate all documents including video and audio recordings; to conduct interviews with all involved individuals to the alleged scam.

The task force is consists of Head Agent Manuel Antonio Eduarte (Chief), Supervising Agent Manuel M. Fayre Jr. (Executive Officer); Supervising Agent Dennis Asistio (Team Leader); and members Special Agent Aubren Cosidon, Special Investigators III Rodelio Velez and Marvin Villena.

Caguioa said the Task Force ‘TaLaBa’ has given 15 days for their investigation.

On Wednesday, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero also released statement urging the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to step into the probe on "tanim-bala (bullet-planting)" scheme.

Escudero said this is to avoid doubts on the result of the investigation being done by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) amid public outrage on the racket of planting a live bullet in the luggage of unsuspecting passengers, mostly OFWs and foreign nationals, so unscrupulous airport personnel can attempt to extort money from them.

"It is not only the integrity of the MIAA that is at stake here, but the government as a whole. By having the NBI as a third party investigator, we can show the public that the government is serious in getting rid of dishonorable airport officials and personnel," Escudero said.

According to Escudero, he has filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 1641 to seek an inquiry into the alleged extortion scheme using the "tanim-bala" modus to put a stop to the scam that is threatening to hurt the Philippine economy.

"Airports are our doors to business activities and further development. If fear is what our airports open to travellers, we are assured of great economic sufferings. Who will come here to conduct business when the moment they step in, threats of abuse or arbitrariness surround them?" Escudero pointed out.

Tourism alone contributed P983 billion to the economy in 2014, based on the share of tourism direct gross value added (TDVGA). Remittances from OFWs reached P382 billion in first four months of this year.

"We expect a deluge of balikbayans soon. Are we going to put all of them through this Russian roulette of 'laglag-bala' in NAIA?" Escudero asked.

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