Believing there is a syndicate behind the modus operandi, Senator Sergio Osmeña III has invited victims of the so-called "laglag bala" extortion racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for a hearing on Thursday.
"We are trying to invite those who have been arrested but [have] since been released," Osmeña told reporters Tuesday. "We want their stories on record. Naawa ako lalung lalo na sa mga OFWs na nabi-victimize ng sindikato na ito, and we want it exposed."
Osmeña, vice chairman of the public services committee, said he also wants to put pressure on those who allowed the alleged scheme to happen.
"Wittingly or unwittingly, this has been going on too long and nobody has been arrested. Can you imagine they are arresting the ones who are the victims?" he said.
The supposed racket, which has angered the public and drawn international attention, involved the planting of live bullets on unsuspecting passengers' bags for extortion.
Osmeña, who is seeking re-election in next year's elections, said he believes a syndicate is behind the scheme "because there are those who will plant the bullet then later on a different person collects the money."
He said they are now trying to get the report of the National Bureau of Investigation on the alleged scheme.
Invited to the hearing are Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, Manila International Airport Administration General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, and the head of the Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group.
"We want to find out first, anong istorya dyan, then we want all the facts together. Gusto namin malaman kung bakit ang mga victims ninyo halos OFWs, kawawa naman sila,” Osmeña said, noting the case of Gloria Ortinez, who is in danger of losing her job in Hong Kong after failing to leave Manila when a bullet was found in her bag.
Osmeña said the hearing will also allow them to take a look at the present law and its implementation.
He also said he believes the existing proposal to decriminalize possession of three to five bullets "will minimize incidents" of "laglag bala."
"There are many proposals we can look into because this is in aid of legislation, so we can look into that para if you want to blackmail somebody, you have to put six bullets,” Osmeña said. —KBK, GMA News