tanimbalaThe Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was recently removed from the list of the world’s worst airports due to the government’s efforts to uplift the image of the country’s main gateway through a series of physical improvements.

However, despite such good news, a new controversy has been circulating around local and foreign media outlets indicating the presence of what seems to be an organized syndicate aimed at extorting hard-earned money from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and international visitors.

Shameful as it is, the so-called “laglag bala” scheme is indeed a form of a scam preying on helpless victims who succumb to paying humongous fines, and/or even serving jail time if they refuse to offer bribes to notorious airport personnel.

In a latest GMA report, it was noted that a 20-year-old American visitor was asked to give an amount of P30,000 in exchange of not recording into the police blotter his case of possessing a piece of bullet in his bag, which he believed he did not carry with him all throughout his trip.

What officers did not know was that the whole drama, starting from the moment they placed the tourist’s bag in the X-ray machine up to the interrogation process at the security office, has been recorded in a handheld video camera — including the moment wherein the authorities opened and searched the luggage without the owner’s permission.

And what makes this incident even worse? Police officials claim that recording their movements on video without their knowledge constitutes violations against their human rights and the country’s law on wiretapping.

What kind of nerves do certain government officials have to be able to comment on the controversy by saying that this issue, which continues to list hundreds of cases wherein live ammunition are recovered from passengers’ luggage, is merely an isolated case? Truly, they must have lost their minds.

The Philippines has already received international media attention for this. What more could we ask for?

We have tried to seek attention, and we are getting it. And for NAIA, it now seems to be a hopeless case.