Bishop, OFW group slam PNoy for dismissing laglag-bala reports as 'sensationalized'
President Benigno Aquino III's statement dismissing reports on the alleged "laglag-bala" extortion scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as "sensationalized" did not sit well with a bishop and an OFW group.
In her report on News To Go on Thursday, GMA News' Kara David quoted Bishop Ruperto Santos as saying that the President's statement showed insensitivity toward the plight of OFWs, who are the targets of the extortion scheme.
Santos, who heads the Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, disagreed with Aquino's statement that the "laglag-bala" issue was sensationalized, saying it has been happening for a long time.
Militant pro-migrants group Migrante International echoed Santos' sentiment, saying OFWs themselves were offended with Aquino's flippancy.
“Our kababayans’ reactions range from incredulity at his insensitivity to irrepressible ire at his audacity to scornful laughter at his plain stupidity," said Connie Bragas-Regalado, one of the group's leaders.
Regalado claimed that OFWs are convinced that "laglag-bala" was a real extortion scheme.
Malacañang had already denied that Aquino was being insensitive when he indicated that the reports on the extortion scheme were overblown by the media.
On Thursday, Aquino found another ally in Justice Undersecretary Emmanuel Caparas, who said the President is taking the "laglag-bala" issue seriously and "is very concerned" about it.
"I wouldn't go so far as saying he (Aquinjo) is downplaying anything because he is definitely not downplaying anything," said Caparas, who is also the DOJ spokesman. "He's taking this seriously as we are, if not more seriously."
"Let's not put words in the President's mouth as well. The President had a message there. May sinsasabi siya doon. It had nothing to do with downplaying. He is very concerned about this," he added.
Caparas said Aquino had already shared "very good points" to the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on how to resolve the matter.
Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa had earlier formed a seven-member NBI special task force to probe the extortion racket, allegedly committed by unscrupulous airport personnel.
Caparas said the NBI task force had requested another deadline for the submission of its report because it was still interviewing more alleged victims.
The "laglag-bala" scheme has angered the public, especially OFWs, and drawn international attention. —Rie Takumi and Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News