Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya admitted on Thursday that there were “certain lapses” on the part of the government that resulted to the arrest of some “innocent” individuals, who were detained and charged for alleged possession of ammunition while traveling in Manila’s airports.

Abaya said that from the very start, he believed that Gloria Ortinez, an overseas Filipino worker who was detained and charged for allegedly carrying a bullet last October 25, was innocent.

If Ortinez was indeed innocent, OFWs advocate and senatorial bet Susan Ople then asked if the government would apologize to the victim, who now risks of losing her job in Hong Kong because of the incident.

Ople, who also heads the Blas Ople Police Center, said she and Ortinez will go to Hong Kong this Saturday to talk to the employer and explain the incident.

“Wala pa akong naririnig kung may regret man lang po ba; mayroon po bang pabaon man lang na humihingi ng depensa sa isang OFW na halata naman pong inonsente?” the senatorial bet said during the joint hearing of the Senate blue ribbon and public services committees.

(I still yet to hear if there’s regret; is there an apology as a keepsake for an OFW who is obviously innocent?)

“Wala man lang po bang magpapabaon ng sorry sa inyo kay Nanay Gloria dahil hindi po namin alam talaga kung may trabaho pa siya o wala sa Hong Kong?” she asked.

(Not even a sorry as keepsake for Nanay Gloria because we don’t know if there’s a job waiting for her in Hong Kong.)

“From the very start, noong nagsalita ako, naniniwala ako na walang kasalanan po si Nanay Gloria at ang iba pang mga bisita natin dito,” Abaya said.

But Ople insisted that Ortinez, who she said was “completely” innocent, has to show something that the government made a mistake.

“I do agree, I could write a letter right now. She could bring it with her. I could personally make a call to her (employer), if I could get the number , I’ll call the employer,” Abaya said.

November 3, 2015
Stickers bearing Stop Tanim Bala warnings are handed out to passengers entering the NAIA Terminal 2, in Pasay City, by militant group Migrante to discourage anyone from planting bullets in their baggages.

“Obviously, there are certain lapses, may pagkukulang ang ating pamahalaan. Whatever Nanay Gloria would request me to do, I’ll do,” he added.
After the hearing, Abaya approached Ortinez and apologized.
Earlier in the hearing, Abaya promised to come out with a clear policies to look after OFWs “and at the same time also protect our enforcers.”

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