Airport authorities intercepted seven empty bullet shells of different calibers from an American tourist at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 1 last Monday.
The foreigner, Allan George Alexander of Phoenix, Arizona, was temporarily placed under arrest by members of the Aviation Security Group after personnel of the Office for Transportation Security found the empty shells inside his black trolley bag while passing through the x-ray machine at the departure area.
Authorities took pictures of the x-ray monitor showing the image of the empty shells as proof to avoid suspicions of bullet-planting scheme.
During interrogation, Alexander explained to Avsegroup investigators that the empty shells were collections of his son.
“I am so sorry for my mistake to keep these empty bullets,” Alexander told the authorities.
Later, the Avsegroup allowed the foreigner to board his China Southern Airlines flight CZ-398 bound for Guangzhou, China.
“The items [empty shells] were confiscated while the subject passenger was allowed to board his scheduled flight,” the Avsegroup said in a statement.
Since November, airport authorities detained more than 50 passengers carrying bullets in their bags at Naia Terminals 1, 2 and 3 amid the growing controversy over the alleged bullet-planting scheme involving some erring personnel.
Avsegroup public information officer Chief Insp. Samuel Hojilla said they continue to apprehend people despite the installation of disposal booths or cubicles served as passengers’ luggage checking station before entering security screening checkpoints.
He added the cubicle dubbed as the “Last Look Booth” would help passengers dispose of items the airport authorities prohibit such as gun, bullets, knives and other deadly weapons.
Senator Ralph Recto recently proposed that the next administration should install a presidential action and complaint center at the Naia to assist passengers victimized by the so-called bullet-planting extortion scheme.
Recto came up with following the arrest of a septuagenarian couple, who allegedly became the latest victim of the scam at the Naia Terminal 1.
Authorities detained and placed under investigation Salvacion and Esteban Cortabista who were caught carrying a live bullet while they were about to board a flight to Los Angeles last month.
The couplewere able to get past the initial x-ray scanning counter but they were prevented upon reaching the second and final checking at the departure area after members of the OTS found a bullet of a .38 caliber pistol inside their hand-carry bag.
Relatives of the couple claimed that some airport personnel demanded money amounting to P50,000 in exchange of their release and avoid flight delays.
But airport policemen said the couple initially admitted owning the live ammunition but when their relatives and members of the media arrived at the scene, they denied owning the prohibited item.
“With 36 million passengers using the four airport terminals annually, “it is a large constituency which can neither be ignored nor denied of service, and one that deserves an office directly under the Office of the President,” Recto said.