Monday, November 9, 2015

OFW petitions Senate to decriminalize possession of bullets at airports

Another OFW-backed online petition has surfaced against criminalizing possession of ammunition while at Philippine airports amid the supposed "laglag-bala" extortion scheme allegedly perpetrated by some personnel in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
But, unlike the earlier petition by Ednalyn Purugganan, Canada-based Ismael Andres asked for the outright scrapping of the rule that has led to the arrest of dozens of travelers found with live ammunition in their luggage.
"While we demand immediate action on our grievances, we specifically demand repeal of a particular provision of a law which is also one of the root causes for the sufferings not only of victimized travelers but also victimized citizens against unreasonable searches, as well as harassment of those in the opposition," Andres wrote in the petition.
The rule in question, a provision under Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition, states that persons unlawfully possessing live ammunition has a penalty of prision mayor in its medium period.
Andres supposes in his petition that the provision was invoked by suspicious police officers to "harass suspected criminals" by planting evidence and used by the "Laglag bala Gang" to extort money.
"Because the provision was misapplied, irrational and ridiculous, we are making this petition to scrap the said provision," he said.
Other demands in the petition include changing NAIA's entire roster of security staff, installing more CCTV cameras, and the sacking of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado in favor of "someone of indespicable (sic) integrity."
Moreover, the petition also asked the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP) to stop arresting passengers found possessing bullets.
"Due to unabated arrests of unsuspecting victims, the PNP or AVSECOM must stop arresting those accused on the ground that the possession of such bullet do not warrant enough reasons to cause unrest, since arrest and detention tantamount to excessive and harsh punishment," Andres summarized.
Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta clarified Monday that, under Section 38 of R.A. 10591, individuals proven to have planted evidence to implicate others could be charged with 'incriminatory machinations'.
Section 38 of RA 10591 states, "The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period shall be imposed upon any person who shall willfully and maliciously insert; place, and/or attach, directly or indirectly, through any overt or covert act, any firearm, or ammunition, or parts thereof in the person, house, effects, or in the immediate vicinity of an innocent individual for the purpose of implicating or incriminating the person, or imputing the commission of any violation of the provisions of this Act to said individual."
Meanwhile, MIAAA's Honrado said last November 2 that he will remain in office unless the "appointing authority" asks him to step down.  Rie Takumi/LBG, GMA News

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