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Why no warning signs on ‘anting-anting’ bullets?

12:01 AM November 30, 2015

SOLITA MONSOD has a commonsensical suggestion to the authorities who seem to be at their wits’ end about what to do with airline passengers caught with bullets/amulets in their checked-in luggage or carry-ons. “Why not put up LARGE SIGNS (caps supplied) at airport entrances reminding all and sundry that anting-anting bullets are verboten?” (“2 scared ladies and their ‘anting-anting’ bullets,” Opinion, 11/7/15). Given the serious nature of the offense and the gravity of its penalty, the least the government should have done was to make its citizens fully aware of it, especially at airports around the country.

Republic Act No. 10591 (“An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition and Providing Penalties for Violations thereof”) took effect in 2013. Under that law, mere possession of “a complete unfixed unit consisting of a bullet, gunpowder, cartridge case and primer or loaded shell for use in any firearm” is already punishable (Section 3-b). As interpreted by airport security personnel, it includes a single live bullet—never mind that it is useless without a gun! Since that law was implemented, a number of cases of passengers getting into serious trouble for their stupid superstitions have been reported.

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Yet, we wonder, if violations of that law have been happening quite frequently, and were not just “isolated cases,” how come not a single advisory was ever conspicuously posted at airport entrances to warn passengers that they could no longer bring their favorite amulets (bullets as anting-anting) into any plane?

What has in fact been taking place is very much like the modus operandi of many traffic law enforcers in Metro Manila: hiding in ambush for clueless motorists “violating” a hardly visible or even nonexistent “No Entry” road sign! It’s a lucrative racket that beats sweating it out in the open to direct traffic properly as good cops should do.

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—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO, Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, [email protected]

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