Sleeping in Airports
Manila Airport Bullet Scam
(photo credit: vladimirfloyd / Fotolia)

Manila NAIA Airport: The World’s Best Bullet Detector?

Over the past few weeks, stories have been emerging out of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) about planted bullets in baggage and bribes. Several readers in the Philippines have brought this story to our attention, hoping we can warn future visitors of this tourist-targeting scam.

So far two foreign tourists and two local overseas workers have reported passing through security, only to be accused of illegally transporting bullets in their carry-on luggage. After detecting bullets on the X-ray machine, guards searched the suitcases by hand, pulling out bullets tucked away in pockets. They then gave the travellers two options: pay a bribe, or be detained for illegal possession of ammunition. One wheelchair-bound Filipino traveller paid her P500/approx. USD 20 bribe and later returned to file complaints, while a second American missionary refused to pay his P30,000/approx. USD 650 bribe and was detained for 5 days. More recently, a Japanese tourist and another overseas worker fell victim to the extortion scheme on October 26. The scam is being called the tanim-bala or laglag bala scam, and is allegedly connected to a local gang.

The Manila International Airport Authority and Office for Transportation Security are currently investigating the incidents, and government senators are calling for broader reform surrounding airport security personnel. Two employees have been placed under preventative suspension, and they stand to be charged with life in jail if found guilty.

If you find yourself travelling through NAIA, be aware that this scam seems to target foreigners and overseas Filipino workers. You would be wise to pay particularly close attention to your belongings landside, as it is not clear how or when the bullets are buried into luggage. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) also encourages you to keep zippers, pouches and pockets of their luggage locked, and to never lose sight of your baggage when passing through security. It is of utmost importance that you stay with your baggage until it goes into the X-ray machine, and that you pick it up immediately when it comes out. The CAAP has also provided additional funding for security camera upgrades.

Photo Credit: vladimirfloyd / Fotolia


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  • NAIA should be the world’s worst airport in the world, people there are all scammers now this? why can’t they work honestly, they are destroying people’s lives. I’m wondering why did sleepinginairports removed them from the worst airports

    • SleepingInAirports does not choose who is on the Best and Worst Airports list. The results depend on survey votes, so I suggest you vote and ask other travellers to do so as well.

  • If you don’t get scammed, fitted up or have something stolen then you were just lucky in NAIA.

    It is a case of constant vigilance and a real PITA.

    Regrettably you must assume everyone is on the make (and the vast majority are) from porters to the highest level of management.

    From a very regular traveler to NAIA.

  • NAIA airport police in a statement said that there are no bullet planting scam and no extortion racket they still blame the passengers for bringing the bullets. And people caught with bullets in bags in NAIA increase 200% this past year

    Under the updated law, possession of a single live bullet could merit an P80,000 bail, P200,000 if the suspect was a foreigner. It seems the government will not do anything about it and just blame the passengers caught with planted bullets.

    Watch Supt. Jeanne Panisan of Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup) here

  • Baket parang walang nakakaalam sa pinas tungkol sa bullet issue at tuloy pa rin ang nahuhulihan sa Noynoy Itl Airport.
    Sagot: Ito ay planong sinadya para pagtakpan ang lagayan o laglagan ng bala. Iyong mga latest na nahuhulihan kasama na iyong matanda na NAGTATAKIP NG MUKHA AY ALL ACOMPLISHEd PARA MA JUSTIFIED NA TOTOO ANG GALENG NG aIRPORT AUTHORITIES SA bala detector.
    Malapit na ang Election at walang gustong tumulong sa LP sa financial help dahil nga NO VOTE for yellow LP .Ginagawa lang ng Chief manager ang iniutos sa kanya kung ano talaga ang papel niya sa pagka appoint sa NAIA.Iyong kinikita sa plastic na 160 pesos per baggage ay di sapat para panustos sa election ,kumpara sa lagayan sa bala.doon sa plastic protection na 160 pesos ay walang kikitain yung pasay judge kaya kailangan ma divert na tutoo talaga ang mga tao ay nagdadala ng 22 cal na bala..Baket walang nahuhulihan na nagdadala ng 50 cal. sagot Masyadong malaki ,mahal ang presyo at mahirap maitago pag sinaksak sa bag. Baka iisang bala lang ang umiikot sa NAIA at pasalin salin sa mga victima..Welcome to DANG Matuwid na itututloy ni Grace Poe at Mar pickup

  • be careful with philippines. even the judiciary is corrupt up to the president. they make the process circus-like going round and round until you get fed up and quit. it’s all about money.

  • AKO’Y HUMIHINGE NG TULONG SA INYO PO. SANA MATULONGAN NIYO PO AKO.. ” NANAKAWAN AKO SA NAIA nong dumating ako nong MAY 6, 2016!!! NASALISIHAN AKO NON! 30 thousand peso at ung cellphone kung Samsung S4..! Nanakaw sa Sling Bag kung Itim…huminge ako ng tulong sa mga police at pumunta kami dun sa MNGT. NG CCTV ng NAIA grabe po talaga! ang sabi sa akin!!!! Sir sorry sa mga na daan mo sa L1 wala po tayong cctv dun… !!! pati na po sa elevator wala!!! sabi ko din po!! Sir meron po akong na pansin sa L3 Dumaan po ako jan sa L3… meron po akong na dadaan na CCTV… if I am not mistaken 6 to 10 cctv po na kita ko!! Putang ina ang sagot sa akin!! “Sir 2 or 3 lang po ung gumaganang cctv dun sa L3… at malabo pa po sir!! Ang sarap basagin ng monitoring ng cctv sa harap nya!!! mga kasabwat ang mga putang ina! grabe talaga kaya sa mga dadaan o dudunggo sa NAIA TERMINAL 3.. MAG.INGAT PO KAYO GAWA NG PROFESSIONAL SILANG MAGNANAKAW!!! at nagpapalit po kayo ng Dollars to peso sa money changer ng NAIA.. UNG MAGNANAKAW MAGTATANONG DUN SA TELLER kung magkano pinalitan ng client natin!!! pagnalaman ng putang inang mananakaw na malaking pinalit!! susundan at susunda ka nila at mamanmanan ka nila para lang makuha ung perang pinalit mo dun sa Money changer!! ang lupit ng strategy nila at dapat sana hindi na po yan Public Airport dahil nakakapasok ang mga PUTANG INANG MAGNANAKAW DUN SA NAIA….Dapat kung sino lang po sana ang lilipad xa lang din dapat makakapasok,.,, at sa mga sundo ng dumating na pasahero.. dapat sa labas lang sila!! At sana pamalitan na yang mga Corruption na mga opisyalis jan sa NAIA dahil madaming nagsasabi na sila ung Mastermind ng lahat ng kagagohan nanangyare jan sa NAIA..!! THIS IS MY CONTACT NUMBER 09193022486 PLEASE PO LET ME KNOW PO KUNG PAANO KO MASULUSYONAN UNG PROBLEMA KO PO..

  • There’s a new government working since July 1st of this year, and bullet planting is a thing of the past.

    The new policy is, even if during the inspection they can find any bullets, or other contrabands of the same nature, they’ll just log it and allow you to take the flight. This is discouraging those scoundrels doing the scam before.

    The airport is also undergoing massive renovation and facilities’ upgrade, e.g. superclean bathrooms as the task is transferred to airline companies, more comfy seats, superfast free internet, well wishers’ areas where banks and cafeterias are also located, etc.

    Free transfers between terminals are also available every 30 minutes.