Philippine investigates bullet-planting scam at airport security

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Manila (dpa) – An alleged scam planting bullets in travellers’ luggage ahead of airport security checks in the Philippines was under investigation after the practice became so widespread the United Nations issued an internal advisory.

Under the scam, bullets are allegedly dropped in passengers’ luggage and then “found” by security personnel, who demand a fine or detain and charge the bag’s owner with illegal possession of ammunition.

“Staff members are advised to keep your luggage with you, lock your luggage, and consider wrapping your luggage as an extra security measure,” the UN Department of Safety and Security said this week.

According to government data, 1,212 travellers have been caught illegally carrying bullets at Ninoy Aquino International Airport since January, compared with 1,510 cases for the whole of 2014.

Filipinos expressed anger and embarrassment online. “This scam has got to stop,” Twitter user @Aiyamaguchii posted Thursday. “Ridiculous as hell!”

Twitter user @manilyndelarosa cursed before adding, “What a shame. I hate this corrupt country,” also Thursday.

Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the UN warning, echoed by some countries, was “an unfortunate development.”

“We hope that moving forward with the new measures that will be implemented, there will be no need for such advisories in the future,” she was quoted as saying by news reports Thursday.

Cabinet Secretary Jose Almendras warned against a hasty crackdown.

“There is admittedly impatience but there is also such a thing as prudence and being careful to make sure that you don’t crucify the wrong people,” he said, adding that investigations were under way.

“The president wants to fire whoever is guilty,” he said. “That is what he wants to get to.”

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