A Quick History of The Manila International Airport “Laglag-Bala” Scam

John Goodman - AvatarThis article follows what has proven to be more of a scam against weary travelers. And less of some pathetic attempt at claiming superior security techniques. So if you’re a passenger with a connecting flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. Please be careful. [*]

Lately, a number of street smart passengers have decided to either shrink-wrap or tape the shit out of their bags, so as to make it that much tougher for these shysters to ply their trade.

  • Anonymous sources say this scam may have been going on inside the airport(s) for decades.
  • Victims are usually passengers with connecting flights.
  • As many as 20 people have been victimized in a single day, the source claims.
  • He adds a simple lifestyle check would reveal who’s involved in modus operandi.

According to the wife of a deceased x-ray screener who was involved in the so-called ‘laglag-bala’ (Dropping Bullet) modus operandi inside the airport, passengers with connecting flights to local or international places are usually the favorite targets of the scammers.

“Sometimes, they would know the target’s destination, simply by checking the address on their balikbayan box or luggage, even allowing the potential victim to pass through a number of the airport’s internal security checks, before making their final move,” she told ABS-CBN News.

These scam operators would usually employ “spotters” to screen potential victims before placing the bullet inside their belongings.

“They only need seconds to place the bullet inside the passenger’s bag without them knowing,” she said.

NAIA Wall of ShameAfter the victim would pay the “fine” (rather than honouring the threat of jail time), the proceeds are eventually divided among the operators, with the x-ray operators getting 60 percent and the spotters the remaining 40 percent.

The source added the scam has been going on for more than two decades, with the perpetrators victimizing more than 20 passengers a day. And raking in hundreds of thousands of pesos daily.

“In the past, 20 a day was even a low figure,” she said. “When it was recently exposed in the media, they cut back their activities, and became more careful with who they victimized.”

To know who’s involved in the scam, the source said a simple lifestyle check would reveal the perpetrators.

“Security screeners have small salaries,” she said. “So if there’s an investigation, those involved will be the ones with big houses, expensive cars, children who go to private schools, frequent foreign trips, and even extra lovers.”

[*] Compiled from a number of different sources.


Just a regular "Joe" who decided the rat-race in the states was getting to ridiculous for words, and made the move to the Asian side of life.

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