The Problem: You’re travelling out NAIA airport when a shady Filipino officer claims to find .45 caliber slug bunched between your jockeys. What is your remedy? You’ve experienced laglag bala scam first hand.
Issue: Mounting claims of bullet-planting extortion within the notorious NAIA airport is burning up social media. Recent victims of the frame-up included an American pastor, a Japanese businessmen and several aged domestic helpers. To the ire of many, the NAIA General Manager Jose Honrado recently defended the questionable arrest of a 56 year old allegedly carrying a bullet.
A number of miscreants involved in the planting of evidence were merely dismissed.
Sen. Ralph Recto called for an investigation as no official had been jailed for the frame-ups transpiring nearly a decade now.
“This is becoming an international embarrassment”
The job of airport security is to confiscate dangerous items from suitcases, but travellers have recently found the opposite is true in the Philippines’ Manila Airport, where staff have allegedly been dropping bullets into the bags of unsuspecting passengers.
Question: Is there a proper penalty for the planting of evidence leading to the inconvenience and incarceration of an individual?
Answer: The penalty for the planting of evidence is reclusion perpetua. For the layman, the penalty is more popularly known as life imprisonment.
Republic Act 9516 or the is clear on the matter
“SEC 4-A. Criminal Liability for Planting of Evidence. – Any person who is found guilty of ‘planting’ any explosive or incendiary device or any part, ingredient, machinery, tool or instrument of any explosive or incendiary device, whether chemical, mechanical, electronic, electrical or otherwise, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
“Planting of evidence shall mean the willful act by any person of maliciously and surreptitiously inserting, placing, adding or attaching, directly or indirectly, through any overt or covert act, whatever quantity of any explosive or incendiary device or any part, ingredient, machinery, tool or instrument of any explosive or incendiary device, whether chemical, mechanical, electronic, electrical or otherwise in the person, house, effects or in the immediate vicinity of an innocent individual for the purpose of implicating incriminating or imputing the commission of any violation of this Decree.
Travelling? Protect Yourself
The laws of the land allow airport officials to inspect the luggage of departing passengers for the safety of the travelling populace. Unfortunately allegations of abuse of power and extortion reveal a real threat. Here’s how to protect yourself legally.
First, avoid bags that have numerous pockets which can be opened and resealed with a ballpen. Rogue NAIA officials can swipe a side pocket and insert contraband this way. Rather than use cheap luggage, use this type of bag:
Use a padlock on the twin holes that secure the bag. A good padlock would be one that required considerable pressure to break. Avoid locks that are merely decorative
The following video illustrates the proper use of the bag.
If you can’t stomach the look of that bag and must fly with your Louis Vuitton, then slap on a second layer of protection. Wrap the entire bag in plastic. The shrink wrap makes sticking in a bullet difficult.
Worse comes to worse. At the X-ray Machine, a rogue official claims to find a bullet for extortion purposes. He insists that you’re carrying contraband and proceeds to open your bag. You have the following rights:
- The right to delay immediate opening of the bag till:
- You summon presence of his supervisor; and
- You obtain the presence of your lawyer or third party witnesses
The supervisor arrives and so do your witnesses. You may now, in plain view, proceed to open the locks on your bag. Let the officials take over and find the so-called bullet. If you truly have no contraband within the bag, then, they may attempt to plant evidence which will be devoid of your fingerprints. A bullet with none of your fingerprints sheds reasonable doubt on the possession of said item.
This is important: No officer of the law may compel you to be a witness against yourself. Should they demand that you admit ownership of the planted bullet, you shall standby the right to remain silent. Any admission by you without a lawyer is inadmissible in court. Cite sec 12 of the Philippine Bill of Rights
Section 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.
(2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.
(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.
(4) The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this section as well as compensation to and rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families.
No police officer can set bail. Corrupt officials may say, “Sir you simply have to pay [xxx extortion amount here], and we’ll let you go.” This is a trap. Only a Judge is empowered by law to set bail. You can respond that they are in violation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act RA 3019. The penalties are severe:
Section 9. Penalties for violations. (a) Any public officer or private person committing any of the unlawful acts or omissions enumerated in Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of this Act shall be punished with imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years, perpetual disqualification from public office, and confiscation or forfeiture in favor of the Government of any prohibited interest and unexplained wealth manifestly out of proportion to his salary and other lawful income.
Any complaining party at whose complaint the criminal prosecution was initiated shall, in case of conviction of the accused, be entitled to recover in the criminal action with priority over the forfeiture in favor of the Government, the amount of money or the thing he may have given to the accused, or the value of such thing.
(b) Any public officer violation any of the provisions of Section 7 of this Act shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred pesos nor more than one thousand pesos, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court.
The violation of said section proven in a proper administrative proceeding shall be sufficient cause for removal or dismissal of a public officer, even if no criminal prosecution is instituted against him.
Did the police detain you arbitrarily? You have real ammunition to fight back:
- Habeas Corpus is a legal proceeding to obtain liberty. The remedy is proper where the rogue authorities have no probable cause nor basis to hold you.
- Arbitrary detention a crime equivalent to illegal detention, more popularly known as kidnapping. Officials commit this crime when they cause your incarceration bereft of legal basis. File this in court to send the erring officer to prison for 6 to 12 years.
The layman often looks in awe upon persons in authority without realizing that crimes perpetrated by the authorities come with heftier penalties.
Art. 124. Arbitrary detention. — Any public officer or employee who, without legal grounds, detains a person, shall suffer;
1. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, if the detention has not exceeded three days;
2. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the detention has continued more than three but not more than fifteen days;
3. The penalty of prision mayor, if the detention has continued for more than fifteen days but not more than six months; and
4. That of reclusion temporal, if the detention shall have exceeded six months.
Travel safe and keep this anti-laglag bala checklist handy:
Related Reports on the Laglag Bala Scam
19 Year Old Student Victimized
Paranoia Rises Among OFWs
The Palace Fails To Acknowledge the Scam Pandemic at NAIA
And a bit of anti-laglag bala humour