The so-called Laglag-bala gang of NAIA airport (“laglag-bala” or drop-a-bullet, roughly), the curious case of passenger Gloria Ortinez, & the magic bullet that changed shape upon presentation to the fiscal
Ms. Gloria Ortinez, a dedicated and hardworking OFW of more than two decades of unblemished record of shuttling back and forth Hong Kong to Manila, was stopped the other day by NAIA personnel at the X-ray screener and informed by NAIA security that her hand-carried bag had a bullet inside the outer pocket. She was arrested and detained until she was able to get a lawyer.
ABS-CBN reported contextually on the incident, in view of previous reports of a “Laglag-bala” gang at the airport.
In previous news reports, passengers complained to the news media that there were certain airport personnel operating in the terminals with a modus operandi of planting a bullet inside the hand-carried bag of any unwitting passenger, then asking for P500 to P1,000 pesos in exchange for not apprehending the passenger for illegal possession.
But…in case you are prosecuted, just remember that:
In the prosecution or defense of any illegal possession case, the chain of custody is key in making the case rise and fall. Chain of custody of evidence refers to keeping track of how the evidence changed hands from the time of arrest and seizure (and in this case, perhaps, even before arrest) to the time the evidence was bagged and tagged to the time it was transported and who transported it, to the time it was recorded and kept in the evidence room and who handled it, up to the time it was presented in court. Any break in the chain of custody, such as for example, failure to account for how the evidence was transported, who transported it, what time and who signed it in and recorded it as received, will serve to put a cloud of doubt as to the authenticity of the evidence and therefore cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution and the guilt of the accused. [in one illegal possession case in the RTC Caloocan, the serial number of the gun presented in court was different from the serial number stated in the Information or formal charge: on oral motion for dismissal right there and then, the Caloocan judge refused… the lawyer for the accused sort of picked up the gun and put it in front of the judge’s face so he could see it bore a different serial number, he got angry and issued a warning for contempt (“put down that gun…” “it’s not loaded your honor” “put down that gun and shut up if you don’t shut up i will cite you in contempt and have you locked up in the supply room…”) — anyway, probably because the judge did not want to see the lawyer’s face ever again, the case was dismissed a week after without any more hearing on the motion or any other proceeding. (it was a good thing i was “curious” and compared the serial numbers while the fiscal was prepping the SPO1 witness)]
In the case of Gloria Ortinez, it was reported today that on presentation by the police with the fiscal or prosecutor for investigation (to find a prima facie case for prosecution, or not), the bulled in evidence had changed shape from the time it was bagged and tagged to the time it was presented. The sharp-eyed fiscal looked at the photo of the bullet when it was bagged and tagged at the airport, and at the object evidence being shown to him. The bullet had shrunk considerably and was no longer a Carbine bullet. The fiscal said he did not have to be a gun expert to see that the bullet had shrunk and was not the supposed evidence that was handled at the airport. The case was dismissed right there and then, today.
And Gloria Ortinez lived happily ever after.
Pero ganun na lang ba iyon? (But is that it?).
Only because the President is an avowed gun expert and because airports and security matters are right up his alley, isn’t he a bit curious about the magic bullet?
Bullets don’t change shape unless fragmented with firing, and the only possible explanation why it shrunk upon presentation to the fiscal is (multiple choice, choose one only, right minus wrong, wrong spelling, wrong):
(a)the original evidence was lost in transit because it was laglagged (nalaglag), that’s why it’s called the laglag-bala gang;
(b)the Carbine bullet was so ancient that it disintegrated into powder when exposed to nervous sweat;
(c)the Carbine bullet could be traced, it had a homing device that caused it to attach to its real owner;
(d) the Carbine bullet was used and tagged before in a previous case and so, a clerk put it back in its old case file bag.
(e)truly, the old Carbine bullet of World War II vintage was really an anting-anting (amulet) and will show up and disappear again in the future and forevermore.
All those who handled the Carbine bullet, now a shrunk evidence — all personnel — from the time of arrest to the time of presentation with the fiscal, should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for, at the very least, tampering with evidence, maybe one of them will talk on the laglag-bala gang — but whom are we kidding, the President is busy campaigning.