- President unconvinced by existence of ‘laglag-bala’ syndicate
- He says number of people caught with bullets at NAIA is only minuscule
- He also accuses groups opposed to his administration of sensationalizing the incidents
MANILA, Philippines – Singing the same tune as his subordinate Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya, President Benigno Aquino III does not believe an organized ‘laglag-bala’ syndicate exists at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
He also downplayed the number of cases, saying they paled in comparison to the millions of passengers who use the country’s main airport every year without incident.
“How many people pass through the NAIA per year? The figure is 34 million. How many of those were involved in a bullet case? What they reported out of the 34 million is 1,200 incidents,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted him as saying.
“That [figure] seems a little small,” he pointed out.
Aquino also sought to allay fears of passengers they might just end up as the next victim.
“If the report that three out of three million is true, how can we say there is an epidemic—that there is a high probability you will get into trouble or that you can say there is a chance you will fall victim to the racket?” he asked.
To quell criticism he might be coming off as insensitive, Aquino stressed nonetheless the need for an investigation.
“So I am not saying there is no such scam,” he said. “That is what should come out in the investigation. But those are the initial statistics.”
Aside from doubting the existence of a syndicate, the President said he believes some nefarious groups are just sensationalizing the crisis to discredit his administration.
“Like out of 10 people who will go to the airport, how many will be victimized? For every 10—two, three? This is not what happened. It is sensationalized and there were those who benefited from sensationalizing it,” he said.