First menace: bukas balikbayan box. On the hot seat: Bureau of Customs. Second menace: additional taxes on branded BUT used clothes, gadgets, accessories, bags. With the multitude of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) reacting very angrily, the issues subsided temporarily.
A few weeks ago, news feeds about gun bullets being discovered inside luggage of returning OFWs, balikbayans, OFWs leaving the Philippines to work and even tourists is very alarming.
While a few passengers admitted to have been keeping fired bullets because of some superstitious belief and good luck charm, the situation is soliciting fear not only from migrant Filipinos but from the international community as well.
Social media sharing posts show that even some Manila taxi drivers are allegedly part of the bullet dropping menace. What is happening to some of our fellow Filipinos at NAIA? Can we never be safe in our own country? Is this how some Filipinos drop down to the level of the most ill, stray animals just to extort money from passengers?
As OFWs, balikbayans we must be vigilant at all times. We know in our hearts and minds that we will never carry contraband or anything that is not allowed in airports and unsafe for travel. Please be reminded of the following tips, just in case, you will be faced with the bullet dropping menace;
- Do not use bags / luggage that have many pockets. Even if you have a padlock / padlocks around the zipper, it is still quite easy for some airport personnel to open it using a ball point pen, put the contraband inside and reseal it as if nothing was tampered with.
- Wrap your entire bag, luggage in plastic and since this will pass x-ray machine as well, they can’t open it and insert bullet / contraband that is NOT yours.
- Worse comes to worst, an airport personnel insists that he found a bullet inside your luggage and wants YOU to open your luggage, here are the things that you can do legally;
- Delay opening of your bag / luggage until the airport personnel calls for his / her supervisor.
- Call your lawyer or third party witnesses.
- Upon the arrival of your lawyer or witnesses you can open the locks of your bag BUT let them find the bullet they are talking about. This will ensure that your finger prints ever be seen anywhere because you never touched the bullet (in case there is REALLY one inside your luggage).
Sometimes, we look up to people in authority as if they can neither mislead us nor cause us harm. Not all NAIA personnel or any airport personnel for that matter, have bad intentions towards passengers. But it will be very helpful that we maintain our presence of mind and know the truth in ourselves.
Kabayans in Kuwait, let us protect ourselves, our families, our loved ones, our dreams, our lives from the bullet dropping menace at NAIA!