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Prosecutor deployed at NAIA for 'tanim-bala' cases.

In a bid to protect passengers from being victimized by a supposed syndicate planting bullets in their luggage, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has designated a prosecutor inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The assigned prosecutor will decide on the spot whether or not the person who yielded a bullet or ammunition will be charged in court and prevent inconveniencing travelers.

DOJ Spokesman Emmanuel Caparas said the DOJ has started designating a prosecutor at the airport since last week to attend to cases of the so-called "tanim-bala" (bullet-planting) scheme.

While the designation of prosecutor will only be implemented at the NAIA, Caparas said that they are planning to assign prosecutors in other airports nationwide.

"The stationing of the fiscal there [at the airport] is one way for now to be able to shorten the time of going to the fiscal, filing a complaint and determining whether or not a case should be filed at the moment," Caparas said.

"We are trying to avoid incidents where passengers are not allowed to take their flights just because may bala na nakuha sa kanila (bullets were found in their possession)... It affects the lives of people unnecessarily and unfairly," Caparas added.

He said the public prosecutors have been instructed by Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to expedite the conduct of inquest proceedings, weigh the evidence including the profile of the respondent.

"The prosecutor can make a call, all points available to him, talk to the passenger, after all that, if the passenger is harmless, [the prosecutor] can make the call using better judgment," Caparas said.

'HARMLESS' PASSENGERS AND BETTER JUDGEMENT

For example, Caparas said if the bullet was found in the luggage or bag of an elderly who have been traveling to and from the country for 30 years "tingin mo dapat kasuhan yan? (you think charges should be filed?) At this point, yan ba may pakay na masama (is there a possible ill motive?)."

But if the bullet or implement was found taped or stitched in some secret pockets of a bag or luggage, then, Caparas said that is another thing.

"There are procedures in law, there are legal provisions that allow us to take certain measure to protect the rights of the general public whether you are a passenger or not and it also protects the rights of those who are looking after security of our airports," he added.

More than 15 "tanim-bala" victims have been ordered released by the prosecutors following the dismissal of criminal case against them, pending further investigation.

NANAY GLORIA'S CASE

The Pasay City Prosecutors Office earlier dismissed the case against 56-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Gloria Ortinez after the prosecutor said authorities failed to prove that she had the intention to possess the ammunition.

"There can be no conviction unless the prosecution shows that the accused knowingly possessed the prohibited articles in his person or that the animus possidendi (intent to possess or malevolent intent to use) is shown to be present together with his possession of such article," the prosecutor said adding that a "bullet is a harmless article without the corresponding gun or firearm to fire it."

The prosecutor added that there is no logical reason why a 56-year-old OFW working abroad for greener pasture would see the need to carry a bullet.

NBI REPORT

Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has asked a 15-day extension for them to submit their initial report on whether an extortion syndicate, who is targeting airport travelers, does exist.

Caparas added that the NBI is still waiting for airport officials to submit to them copies of closed circuit television (CCTV) recordings at the NAIA.

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Title Annotation:Metro
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Nov 13, 2015
Words:615
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