MANILA. As the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) issued a Nov. 3 advisory against the “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting) scheme at the Manila airport, the Philippines chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) issued its own warning for expected delegates coming for its 5th international assembly.
“We have been holding this global assembly since 2001 at various world cities but it’s only now that we fear for the safety of our colleagues from illegal arrests. Only in the Philippines,” ILPS-Phils chair Bong Labog said.
In an internal memo, the UNDSS advised their staff and dependents “to keep your luggage with you, lock your luggage, and consider wrapping your luggage in plastic as an extra security measure.”
Pres. Benigno Aquino III has ordered an investigation into the scheme but the ILPS-Phils said that it was “only meant to save face as world leaders are set for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.”
“The ILPS assembly, with foreign delegates from dozens of countries including personalities such as former US Rep. Cynthia Ann McKinney, is expected to challenge world leaders for the global plunder and increasing militarization,” Labog said.
“They could be targeted by Malacanang using foul means at the airport,” he added.
The warning is not baseless.
The Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group (PNP Avsegroup) said the number of travelers apprehended with bullets in their luggage this year was the highest in four years: with 105 cases from January to November this year compared to 12 incidents in 2014; 21 in 2013 and 20 in 2012.
Despite denials of airport officials, several Filipinos, including foreigners, have testified that they have been victimized by the alleged scheme wherein passengers caught carrying the planted bullets were apprehended.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya had committed that the government will get to the bottom of the controversy.
“They could reach to the bottom of your luggage and find bullets,” the ILPS-Phils said.
Meanwhile, more than 300 flights of Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines (PAL), CebGo and Air Asia have been cancelled for the APEC preparations.
Temporary runway closures of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were declared as world leaders are expected to arrive on November 16 and 17 and leave on November 19 and 20.
Thousands of delegates are arriving for APEC CEO Summit, APEC Business Advisory Council dialogue and APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
“This might have an adverse effect on our own assembly,” the ILPS-Phils said.