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‘Airport extortion an isolated case’

MalacaÑang  has downplayed a recent incident involving  an extortion gang victimizing  a United States citizen who was jailed after a gang-member dropped bullets inside his luggage while being inspected at  the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

“This is an    isolated case and the public must not worry about it. Government authorities will not be reluctant  in  pursuing charges against those involved in the incident,”  Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.  said in  an interview over state-run radio station dzRB.   

Coloma, meanwhile, said the Office of Transport Security  of the Department of Transportation and Communications   as well as the management of the    Manila International Airport Authority   are also conducting an investigation of the incident.

Authorities are looking into  the  “laglag bala” modus operandi at the NAIA    following recent complaints from passengers who fell victim to the extortion scheme.

Two supects, a baggage inspector and an x-ray operator are under investigation,  NAIA spokesman David de Castro said.

The investigation came after complaints from NAIA passengers who claimed to be victimized in the modus operandi where a bullet is slipped into the passenger’s luggage  to start an extortion attempt.

One of the alleged victims was  20-year-old US citizen Lane Michael White whom  the alleged gang members  asked to fork out  P30,000 to let the incident slide but he declined and was detained for six days  at the police aviation custodial in NAIA Terminal 1.  

Meanwhile, Filipino-American Rhed Austria de Guzman also complained of a similar incident which she posted on Facebook.

 In her post she said NAIA Terminal 2 staff asked her for a P500 bribe after two bullets were found in her baggage following the x-ray procedure.

 De Guzman denied that the bullets were hers but still gave the NAIA staff the bribe money just to get  her off the hook.

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