Tuesday, November 3, 2015

OFW petition for ‘laglag bala’ probe gains thousands of supporters

An overseas Filipino worker in Hong Kong has started an online petition calling for a congressional investigation on the so-called "laglag bala" extortion racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) victimizing travelers and OFWs.

The petition, posted by Ednalyn Purugganan on Change.org, has gained close to 13,000 supporters in the span of three days and a response from Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago.

Purugganan's petition, titled "Imbestigahan at pigilan ang 'LAGLAG BALA EXTORT MODUS' sa NAIA,"  specifically cited the arrest of Gloria Ortinez, a 56-year-old domestic helper in Hong Kong who was arrested at the airport after police found a live bullet in her hand bag.

She, like other pro-OFW groups who argued Ortinez's case, said strict Hong Kong laws make it impossible for Ortinez, a veteran OFW, to make a beginner's mistake.

Purugganan said reports of the "laglag bala" racket made many OFWs fearful of going home despite their homesickness.

"Maawa naman po sana kayo sa aming mga OFW. Di po namin pinaghihirapang alagaan ang pangalan namin para lang sirain ng mga gahaman sa isang iglap lang," Purugganan said.

The "laglag bala" scheme involved the discreet planting of bullets by unscrupulous airport personnel to airline passengers' bags. When the passenger got arrested, they would be asked to fork over money in exchange for their freedom.

Meanwhile, in her response to the petition, Santiago said she filed Senate Resolution No.1635 on Thursday calling for a Senate investigation on the alleged extortion racket committed by NAIA personnel.

"This extortion scam counts among its victims the millions of OFWs who see airports as their connection to home. Wrongly accusing them of a crime and forcing them to pay their way out of it is not the way to repay those whom we call our modern-day heroes," Santiago said.

"The recent incidents show that the perpetrators of the alleged scam are brazen, perhaps because they know they will not be punished. We must prove them wrong," she added.

Aside from Santiago, the petition was also addressed to Sen. Grace Poe.

Both Santiago and Poe are running for president in next year's elections. —KBK, GMA News

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