DAVAO CITY, Philippines – "Mayor please be our lawyer wala kaming ibang kakampi, be our lawyer," was the plea of overseas Filipino worker Merasol Espinosa to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. (Mayor, please be our lawyer, we don't have any other ally, be our lawyer.)
Espinosa, afraid that he could be the next target of extortionists from possibly airport police and security personnel, asked the mayor for help. (READ: Bullets in luggage again – this time at Davao airport)
Quoting Duterte, the Netherlands-based Espinosa said, "Sige I'll be with you, voluntarily ito ha, (Okay, I'll be with you, and this is voluntary, okay,) I am your lawyer if that's what you want."
Espinosa, also president of "OFW Worldwide", said he was "surprised" and "so happy" by what Duterte told him.
Based in the Netherlands, Espinosa called on Duterte for help, following numerous cases involving the "laglag-bala" or bullet-planting scam.
Thus far, authorities have apprehended at least 5 people for allegedly carrying bullets in their luggages. These are believed to be largely planted to frame passengers and extort money from them. The Aviation Security Group, however, says 30 cases have already been recorded from January to early November this year.
Several cases were reported in various terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila over the last few weeks. Only recently, one case was recorded in the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao, with a Manila-bound passenger found to have two live bullets in his baggage.
Favor asked of the President
Duterte also told Espinosa he is asking President Benigno Aquino III a favor: "Please Mr President, do something about the laglag-bala problem."
"I never asked any favor from him in the past, but now I am asking him do something," Duterte told Rappler.
Espinosa said OFWs going home for Christmas are worried they might be victimized by perpetrators of the laglag-bala scam.
Returning OFWs have designed a label for their luggage. It says:
This is to certify that this travel bag was personally packed by the owner and does not contain any bullet or anything illegal. The owner is not a dumb Filipino to put jeopardy his/her travel funded by hard-earned money. The owner likewise disavows responsibility or liability on anything that Philippine airport authorities will claim to the contrary. In case of emergency please contact my lawyer.
ATTY. RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE
Luggage owner: Ms. Gerlyn S. Acedo
"I am a law abiding citizen"
CALL MY LAWYER. The luggage tag prepared by the head of an OFW group says in case they are framed by airport security personnel with bullets in their bag, their lawyer, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte should be contacted. Photo by Editha Caduaya/Rappler