I’ve gotten very nationalistic since I became a serial traveler. I’m a Philippine ambassador when abroad, promoting the Philippines every chance I get and inviting people I meet around the world to visit the Philippines. I’ve also actively work with the Philippine Department of Tourism since 2011 in promoting Philippines as a dive destination.
That is why it angers me so much whenever I hear local news of tourists being scammed or that incident in Luneta that involved a bus load of tourist from Hong Kong and a stressed out policeman. But however mad I was, I never used social media to vent my anger. This is because I didn’t want to humiliate the Philippines to the world, as I have a lot of friends from around the world, literally, and potentially turn people off visiting the Philippines. But,
Latest NAIA Security Scams: Bullet Planting Gang NAIA 1 & 2
A young tourist, Lane Michael White spent 5 days in jail because bullets were allegedly found in his checked-in luggage in NAIA 1 hit the news on Sept. 24, 2015. Several days before, Sept 19, 2015, Filipina Balikbayan, Rhed Austria de Guzman, told her horror story on facebook on how bullets were found in her bag at the security check in NAIA 2. She was allowed to pass for mere 500 pesos. The post was shared over 70,000 times. Rhed was on a wheelchair!
I’ve heard of airport extortions, but this brings the modus operandi to the next level. They actually destroy people’s lives. More and more stories are emerging online and this has caught foreign press such as BBC and TIME. It’s been over a month since Lane Michael White’s story broke. What has be done since?
- Time: Airport Security in the Philippines Have Been Putting Bullets in Luggage to Extort Passengers
- BBC News: Philippine Legislator Angered by Manila Bullet Scam
- ABS CBN: ‘Laglag bala’ victimizing passengers in NAIA?
I decided that the right thing to do now is to continuously make noise in the media until the proper authorities and our sitting pretty government busy with upcoming election to do something. If shaming the country they hold an office in and is seeking reelection for is what it takes to fix this crap, then lets be loud and expose them. I bet my passport that there are more untold stories. Here are my stories,
NAIA Security Scams Experience by My Family Member
My sister is married to a Japanese national and they live in Tokyo. They both work for a multinational company, which has a branch in the Philippines that is a consistent top exporter. Several times a year, they will be in the Philippine either for work or visiting us, their family. Most of the time, my sister will extend her stay here resulting in my brother-in-law to fly back to Tokyo by himself. He often have these infuriating experience with these airport security lowlife.
These NAIA Airport Security lowlife are found at the airport entrance scanning bags. They are also found at the security area scanning hand-carry before immigration.
- Vinaigrette/Sala Dressing: at the airport entrance scanning, he was stopped because he had a bottle of salad dressing in his checked-in bag. The security asked him, “what’s this?” He replied,”Vinaigrette.” “Vinegar, dame, dame!” the airport lowlife said. He asked sternly, “Why!?” The lowlife security sensing that he is not dealing with a scared tourist said, “I thought it’s wine. Tip, tip.” stretching out his begging hand. My brother-in-law was so disgusted he tossed 50 pesos to get through this door. He now carries 50 pesos in his pocket every he flies how out NAIA.
- Packing Tape: on another trip, at the airport entrance still, they found packing tape in his checked-in luggage. While packing tape are not allowed in hand carry bags, it is not forbidden to have it in checked-in bags. They told him it is not allowed. He was fed up so he just surrendered it to them lowlife at the NAIA security. But still they wanted cash so they pushed “tip, tip.” So he tossed 50 pesos to them.
- Mangoes: on another trip, at the airport entrance scanning again, he was stopped because he had mangoes in his checked-in bag. It is true that some countries do not allow fresh fruits to be brought in, but that is the job of the country’s quarantine department, not the outgoing airport security. Japan allows these brought in as long as you declare it. The lowlife asked for money to allow him through the door. This was the first time he visited the Philippines and did not have smaller bill than 500 pesos. “Just give me that.” pointing to the 500pesos bill. If he isn’t married to my sister, I swear he would never ever come back to the Philippines! Needless to say, he never pack anything other than clothes when he isn’t traveling with my sister.
- Nintendo DS Lite, Sony PSP: yet on another trip, at the final security check this time. He was asked to open his carry-on bag. The lowlife security points to his gadgets and said, “Oh Santa, santa. Merry Christmas.” He just looked at him, disgusted. But he was let through without extortion this time.
NAIA Security Scams Underwater Photographers to the Philippines Upon Exit
This story sends my blood boiling!
In a facebook group for Hong Kong based underwater photographers, a long thread about how HK underwater photographers going home from a dive trip in the Philippines were told their extra batteries (for cameras and strobes) are not allowed in the airplane. This is NOT true! As underwater photography set-up can costs up to few million pesos, photographers carry them on board all the time around the world.
On the message thread, some photographers shared they just handed money to the security and they were allowed to pass. Some who did nothing, just surrender their batteries. Based on the thread, this is a common experience for divers. This must also happen to divers from other countries, just that I have not encountered them yet.
This is unbelievable!!! because Philippine Department of Tourism spends so much money promoting Philippines as a destination for diving, like holding annual Anilao Underwater Photo Competition. Dive resorts around the Philippines are upgrading their facilities and services for underwater photographers so they are spoiled and be enticed to come back. Association of Filipino Dive Guides are continuously being trained in the proper spotting to cause least stress to underwater creatures. Filipino scuba divers like myself promote Philippine diving every chance I get.
And all it takes are some few scumbags stationed at the borders to put all these effort in vain!
my setup doesn’t cost a million pesos, but still put a dent in my bank
Article I wrote for international magazine EZ Dives to promote Anilao Diving
It’s More Fun in the Philippines campaign, photo my friend Stephen David who allowed PDOT to use his picture for FREE
What Can You do to Protect Yourself from NAIA Security Scammers?
Several posts around the internet shares how to protect yourself from this NAIA Security scumbags. In summary though, make sure that you don’t let them touch your bags. If they tell you they found something fishy in your bag, make sure you open the bag yourself so they won’t have the opportunity to plant something in it.
- Rappler: How to Curb Laglag Bala Modus
- Pinoy Adventurista: Tips on How to Avoid Being a Victim of Laglag Bala Gang
Have you, your family or friends got any experience being scammed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport?