DUMAGUETE CITY — A Canadian national and his Filipino wife have claimed they were victims of the so-called “tanim-bala” (bullet planting) while checking in their baggage at the Dumaguete-Sibulan alternate airport in Negros Oriental on Thursday.
They were bound for Cebu on their scheduled flight on board Cebu Pacific at 2:00 p.m. when they arrived at the airport around 1:55 p.m. to check in, airport authorities said.
The discovery of the bullet in one of their bags through the x-ray scanner was at 12:05 p.m. based on the record of the Aviation Security Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) assigned at the airport.
The Canadian national, later identified as Dale Elder, and his wife, Nelly Grafe failed to return to the airport after they sought the assistance of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) who in turn referred them to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
NBI Dumaguete District head Atty. Dominador Cimafranca is also in a quandary as to what to do with the case while conducting an investigation on the matter because the alleged complainants did not come back.
He said the alleged victims did not file a formal complaint.
Cimafranca said they are ready with their investigation report and are awaiting the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) and the Aviaton Security Group (AVSECOM) to file the necessary charges against the Canadian national, who is reportedly ready with his legal counsel.
Found in the sling bag of Elder was a live round for a caliber .22 Magnum revolver which was marked Hornet with a tracer.
OTS acting supervisor Velma Bajamunde, meanwhile, disclosed that the airport CCTV footage would show that nobody had touched the bag of the foreigner as it passed through the X-ray machine, except the owner himself.
After the first X-ray scan was conducted, OTS personnel requested for a second scan to confirm what they had seen on the screen inside the bag that appeared to be a bullet.
The video footage showed that the Filipino woman was asked to empty the bag of its contents.
As soon as the couple was informed of the presence of the bullet inside the black sling bag, they immediately gathered their stuff and left the pre-departure terminal in a hurry, airport authorities said.
According to Police Inspector Melvin Atacador, AVSECOM chief, they will be filing the necessary charges against the Canadian national to clear their name against the verbal accusation of the foreign national that the bullet was planted.
He said their best evidence is the CCTV footage and the two X-ray results and he would not allow the issue to be left hanging as it would create a wrong notion that they are involved in such activity.
Bajamunde, on the other hand, showed to the media ammunition of different calibers that were confiscated from passengers during previous occasions.
These, she said, were apparently carried by their owners as amulet or “anting-anting” and which they found during X-ray examination of baggages prior to the controversial incidents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila recently on the so-called “laglag-bala” or “tanim-bala”.
She said Thursday’s incident was the first in Dumaguete after the bullet planting issue surfaced in recent months. PNA / northboundasia.com