Airport employees vow zero tolerance on co-workers involved in 'laglag-bala'
Employees of the Office of Transportation Security (OTS), still reeling from the backlash of last year's "laglag bala" controversy, on Friday said they will not tolerate co-workers who would be found involved in the alleged extortion scheme.
Jocelyn Mirabueno, vice president for internal affairs of National Employees Association for Transportation Security (NEATS), said they are even willing to turn in errant employees who are proven guilty of planting evidence or accepting bribes.
"Kung mayroon mang mapatunayan na miyembro ng sindikatong inaakusahan ngayon ay siyempre hindi naman po 'yan kukunsintihin, unang-una ng aming ahensya, at ganun din po sa aming hanay," Mirabueno said at a press briefing in Pasay City
OTS has been the subject of criticisms after some of its employees were linked to the "laglag-bala" scheme, which had angered the public and drawn international attention in 2015
Mirabueno said the employees accused of planting bullets in bags and those on duty at the time of the incidents have been removed from duty pending the resolution of their administrative cases.
"Lahat po ng duty na kung saan may usaping laglag bala, sila po ay ni-relieve na doon sa airport at sila po ay nandito habang ang kanilang kaso ay dinidinig," she said.
NEATS boasts a thousand members throughout the country, with 436 alone in the National Capital Region.
Proof before prejudice
However, NEATS president Edgar Anas said none of their members have been convicted after being investigated by the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and National Bureau of Investigation.
"Hanggang ngayon po wala pa ring napapatunayan, kaya hanggang ngayon, inosente pa rin ang mga kasamahan namin sa bagay na 'yan," Anas said.
"Kung puwede lang, i-lie detector natin yung taong nag-akusa at yung taong inaakusahan para malinis lang ang pangalan ng aming mga screeners," he added.
Neither is Anas convinced that there is an alleged syndicate operating at NAIA.
"Hindi po ako naniniwala na may sindikato ng laglag bala. Matagal din po akong nasa airport. Alam ko po ang buhay ng isang screener diyan kasi alam naman po namin na once nahulihan ka na nagtanim o nag-plant ng evidence, habang-buhay na pagkakakulong, tanggal ka pa," Anas said.
Families ruined, personnel killed
Various members of NEATS asked the public to refrain from bullying airport personnel as their families have already been affected by the negative publicity caused by the "laglag bala" issue.
"Mag-iisang taon na. Pamilya namin nasira na, 'yung buhay namin sa ginagawa ng mga himpilan, sa mga tao. Ano pa bang kailangan niyong malaman, taumbayan? Nasaktan na kaming lahat," NAIA Terminal 2 supervisor Nazario Malonzo said.
Anas said some children of OTS employees stopped attending school due to the harassment they endured from their classmates.
He said OTS employees also receive harassments from passengers as a result of the issue. "'Pag dating pa lang po ng mga tao sa screening area ay kung anu-ano na po ang mga naririnig na pambabatikos."
Terminal 2 supervisor Fredelito Barcenas said an employee who worked outside of baggage screening was even refused service at a repair shop because of a small OTS sticker on his motorcycle.
A long-time employee, Celedonia Reintegrado, also died from heart attack blamed on the grief and stress she suffered due to the public's persecution of OTS employees, Anas said.
"Inatake na siya... minahal po niya yung trabaho niya kaya masakit din po sa kanya na maakusahan na wala naman pong totoo, wala naman siyang kasalanan, dinamdam po niya ng labis yun," Anas said.