The laglag-bala issue has been brewing for close to a couple of weeks now. People like me who haven't even experienced riding on an airplane have been fixated with the issue.Within the time-frame of the issue, news programs have failed to report on several topics. Lumad struggle... what's that? Otaza... who? Samal kidnapping... hmm? Duterte... meh... he's been quiet on his own anyway.
For the past few weeks, calls for the immediate resignation of the MIAA GM have been voiced. A full reshuffling of the security staff has also been voiced out in social media and by Win Gatchalian. Abaya, as usual, is in hot water. Everybody who has power to fix all of this has been antagonized. But is it fair to call for the resignation/dismissal of the head officials? Is it fair to uproot the lowly security teams and assign them to different locations?
Crimes within airports is not exclusive to our country. Johannesburg seems to be the most infamous judging by a browser search. But even one of the most paranoid nations in the world has experienced baggage breaches in their airports. From Miami all the way to Los Angeles, the United States has consistently been bugged by this problem. So this is nothing new internationally speaking.
That being said, the laglag-bala issue should not be swept under the rug. NAIA was known as the worst airport in the world a few years back. And even though the airport is still one of the worst, it was at least making small strides to better itself. But with the advent of the laglag-bala issue, we can safely assume that whatever minimal upgrades the airport has done lately will be overshadowed. There's something about the UN's distrust with the airport security that aids in making this assumption.
With the APEC summit approaching, this issue has been regarded as economic sabotage. Businessmen are growing wary and are not happy with what world leaders may perceive with the issue. With the airport being the gateway to our country, investors may be turned off by the rampant corruption that welcomes our balikbayans, tourists and guests. This is not something that potential investors, world leaders and industry think-tanks are willing to deal with considering the competition our neighbors pose.
With all this, 2016 candidates have attached themselves with the issue. Both Grace Poe and Miriam Santiago have filed resolution in the senate. Binay has called for the dismissal of the OTS personnel. Alan Peter Cayetano, NITAS and the VACC have filed administrative charges against Abaya and airport officials for neglecting their duty. Aside from this, all vice presidential candidates except for Trillanes who is out of the country have chimed in on the issue. The laglag-bala issue is being forced-fed to us by the media and everyone gunning for something in 2016 wants to be included in what's being fed.
Earlier today (Nov. 4,2015), Jun Abaya held a press briefing regarding the Laglag-bala issue. He laid down several statistics as well as rules and regulations that should be followed with regards to the issue. Summarizing what he said, bullets being found with passengers in our airports is a normal thing. That being said, they have had reports dating back as far as 2008 where security personnel were asking for money from passengers who had bullets with them. He also shared the number of passengers being caught with bullets, be they be live or amulets/anting-antings, within the past few years. By his calculations, only .004% of all passengers have caught the attention of security due to bullets. He also shared several instances were the passenger admitted that they brought the bullets knowingly like the Japanese tourist last October who brought a bullet as a souvenir from a shooting range. As for the rules, he cleared up that only live bullets would result in a charge being filed while bullet parts will only result in confiscation.
As for GM Honrado, GMA News TV was unable to catch up to him as he was hurriedly getting in an elevator. Apparently, he was being summoned by the president. MIAA spokesperson David de Castro did say that it would be best to go after those directly involved with the issue rather than the ones trying to solve it.
Abaya and Honrado are in a tough jam here. If you've read some of my earlier posts, you'd know I hate Jun Abaya's performance as DOTC secretary. But in this instance, he is not the problem. The problem here is the insistence of a government to trust its people who clearly are unable to do their job. I hate Abaya and he should have been fired a long time ago. But to let Honrado continue on as MIAA GM is crazy. He's been there since 2010 and he has been its GM through the "worst airport in the world" title. At least, Abaya has the cushion of antagonizing the MRT's private partners and the Arroyo gov't. Aside from that, Aquino has lauded Abaya for some maritime accomplishment during his last SONA. He has supporters willing to support him regardless of how useless and corrupt he may be. Honrado on the other hand, is just a name. His is a name synonymous to "the worst in the world". How he was not fired then is astounding. It's not like he's the grandson of Aguinaldo. The only reason not to fire him is if he has Aquino by the balls. Sure, he was Aquinos' security consultant in 2010 and Cory's aide-d-camp. But to keep him for these reasons is completely unethical and unprofessional.
The laglag-bala issue shouldn't have gotten this big. The crazy thing with this issue is that it is apparently continuing despite the constant media coverage. Is it because the perpetrators know they won't be caught? Or is it really sabotage being done by powerful people trying to undermine the government? Or hey, maybe Filipinos just plain forget whenever they have bullets in their bags. Who knows? Certainly the people trying to solve it don't know.