Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero urged airport authorities to give members of duly registered media entities access to areas where they can exercise their duties without intervening in security personnel’s work.
Escudero made the call following reports that media workers accredited to cover the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were prohibited from going to certain areas of NAIA Terminal 3, where there were reports of the “tanim-bala” cases were reported.
NAIA reporters complained that the restriction on their access came only in the wake of reports on the alleged extortion scheme that has victimized overseas Filipino workers, tourists and travellers on business.
“At a time like this when we are all trying to find the truth behind this deplorable ‘tanim-bala’ modus operandi, we need the media to be free to do its work of gathering information, examining our systems, and uncovering the wrongs that may be hidden from sight,” Escudero said.
He pointed out that NAIA personnel and officials of the Manila International Airport Authority should not feel threatened by the presence of prying eyes if they have nothing to hide.
“Lagi naman nating sinasabi na ang walang tinatago hindi natatakot masilip,” Escudero said.
According to the Department of Transportation and Communications, there have been 1,394 ammunition-related cases this year, many of them reported only in the last two months.
The case of OFW Gloria Ortinez, who was detained and prevented from flying to Hong Kong after security personnel found a bullet in her luggage, called attention to the modus operandi, which had also victimized an American missionary and a balikbayan.
Ortinez’s case drew media attention to the prevalence of “tanim-bala” incidents in airports. The National Bureau of Investigation, which has been directed to look into the cases, said the scheme is being perpetrated by a syndicate.
“We enjoy a democracy that upholds and protects the people’s right to know. Curtailing the media’s freedom to do the important work of exposing the truth cannot be justified, especially in this particular case,” Escudero said./Office of Senator Chiz Escudero