The Frame-up of the Innocent
Fr. Shay Cullen
6 November 2015
She was a brave, courageous Filipino girl who stood her ground and fought valiantly for her innocence against the corrupt Manila airport employees who tried to frame her while screening her luggage.
According to Annalisa (not her real name), they allegedly framed her up for possession of a single bullet. She is just the latest victim of the long running airport bullet planting scam or “Tanim-Bala” in Tagalog.
Most of the employees at the airport are good, honest personnel but bad apples left untouched rot the whole barrel. Annalisa was traveling to Singapore, escorting her ailing grandmother and family members for medical treatment.
As is happening all too frequently, the security personnel ordered her to put her backpack through the machine a second time. This time they handled it. Lo and behold, the innocent girl was suddenly found to be a suspected terrorist in possession of a single bullet, a very serious crime in the Philippines, if the police want to make it so.
This time they did and Annalisa was just one more of the numerous hapless Filipinos and foreigners that are framed-up, falsely accused, arrested and detained for planted contraband. Most pay up and only later when they are safe home it comes up on Facebook and social media. Some people of principle like Annalisa and Irishman Enda O’Coughlin refused to pay.
Annalisa made a big fuss at Terminal 3 and told the scanner in charge of the X-ray machine she was innocent and would fight them to the bitter end. The corrupt officials got scared and called off the scam and told her to sign a logbook to say it’s just an amulet or lucky-charm.
These are the guardians of the law, the protectors of the people paid to keep us safe. But some think nothing of destroying a person’s life and reputation with false accusations and staging a frame-up. So watch your bags at the screening machine.
Enda O’Coughlin made a fuss too when he was falsely accused of possessing two cigarettes of marijuana. It happened in Laoag Airport, Marcos country, where bad things happen to the good people especially tourists and visitors. The police screened his bag a second time and allegedly they “found” the cannabis. In the Philippines, they who refuse to pay bribes incur the anger of corrupt police, prosecutors and even judges and suffer retribution. The maximum penalty is 12 years and the judge gave it to Mr.O’Coughlin, having met an honest man.
Enda is a retired professional psychiatric nurse of the highest integrity and married to a highly intelligent and courageous Filipino nurse. She made a protest at the Philippine Embassy in London. He took a stand for what was right and even photographed the so-called “evidence” and what was presented in court was different. So the chain of evidence was broken and that should be enough grounds for the Court of Appeals of the 13th Division to dismiss the case and end the injustice and psychological suffering of Enda O’Coughlin. It’s clear that the police planted the so-called cannabis. So in the name of justice and God, I appeal to the good justices to do what they know to be just and fair.
When Edna O’Coughlin protested his innocence and would not pay police, prosecutor or judge he was sentenced to 12 year in prison. He paid over half-a million pesos to his lawyer to pay all the legal fees, get exonerating evidence and appeal his case. If the police or prosecutor sign a letter saying there could have been a mix-up then the case would end.
The attorney is having a hard time getting justice and proving his innocence. She is still struggling desperately without success so far to get his case a hearing after three years.
The planting of so called evidence and frame-up scam at Philippine airports has gained national and international notoriety on social and mainstream media. The tourists are scared now of passing through the airports. It is also damaging the good work of the President and Ombudsman to crush corruption.
Business people at the Manila Airport Terminal 3 are making money out of the fear of travelers. They have installed plastic wrap machine to secure bags from tampering by the security screeners .You will see them at the entrance door. That is how bad it has become.
It is clear in the case of Enda O’Coughlin that the honest and the brave are made to suffer.
The “Tanim-Bala” scam is no isolated incident as higher authorities claim. Some deny it is happening at all, which could mean they are getting paid off too and could be earning millions every month.
The Aquino administration has scored significant success in cracking down on the high-profile criminals but has failed to reform the police and the corrupt prosecutors.
We can all protest the injustice on Facebook, report more incidents to the Facebook account of Preda foundation. Write to the Philippine Embassy in London (6-8 Suffolk St, London SW1Y 4HG, United Kingdom) to end the false accusation against the innocent travelers, one day it might be you.