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A shakedown by police to welcome me to Philippines


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I have been to Philippines many times but only for short visits of 2-3 weeks at a time. This time I arrived in Philippines with the intent to live in Philippines (or at least try) and I was warmly welcomed by corrupt police with a shakedown. Here is what happened.

 

I was walking in Clark SM mall and found a bullet. It must have been dropped by one of the security people at the mall. I picked it up and because I have never seen a real bullet before (other than in movies and TV), I thought it was kind of cool so I kept it. I put it in my luggage and after that I never gave it a second thought. I assumed it would not be a problem in a checked bag just like you can take kitchen knife in checked bag with no problem.

 

My flight was from Angeles City to Cebu, with my final destination being Davao. At the Clark airport security check point (to enter the airport to get to the airline check in counter), the bullet showed up in the x-ray. The police were all excited and immediately confiscated my passport. I was taken away to a small back room and surrounded by 7 (yes seven) policemen and airport security people. They all were excitedly telling me one after another that I committed a serious crime by having a bullet in my luggage. They said that I will be held and taken to the police station and that I will not be able to take my flight. I explained what happened, that I picked up the bullet at SM mall and did not know that I cannot carry a bullet, even in a checked bag. My explanation fell on deaf ears as I am sure they were busy thinking about how much money they can squeeze out of the foreigner. The intense intimidation by the 7 people took about 40 minutes. For the full 40 minutes, not one person left the room. I think maybe they were afraid that if they left the room they would not get their share of the shakedown. There must not be much to do at the airport for the 7 police and security people to be spending 40 minutes with me trying to scare me into paying up as much as possible.

 

For the 40 minutes they kept threatening to take me to the police station but they were not making any moves to do that. All they were trying to do was to make me miss my flight and inconvenience me as much as possible. They wanted PHP 20,000 to forget that they found a bullet in my luggage. I balked at this figure and I told them that if they want me to give them money it will have to be a reasonable amount and that I would only pay if I am able to catch my original flight. I said if I miss the flight I will go to the police station and be charged with whatever and I would not pay any money. Anyway as my flight time was drawing near I was resigned to accepting the fact that I would miss my flight and that I would be taken to the police station. But then one of the police asked what can you pay? I said I could pay PHP 5,000 if I can catch my flight but they declined. I guess PHP 5,000 was not enough to go around for 7 people. They asked for PHP 10,000 and I did a quick calculation in my head to figure out how much I would lose if I missed my flight. The fact that I had pre-paid 2 nights hotel in Cebu, plus expensive last minute ticket for two people would add up to about PHP 10,000. So since I was going to lose PHP 10,000 either way, I told them I would pay the money. Also, I was concerned that if I didn’t pay anything (after 7 people worked so hard to squeeze money out of me) I could be in for some rough time as they might take out their frustration on me and charge me with some trumped up offense in addition to the bullet.

 

I never experienced anything like this before. If it was one or two police trying to extort money discreetly I could say I was just unlucky that I happened to run into bad apples. But when 7 people surround you and try to intimidate you for 40 minutes, it isn’t a few bad apples but the whole bunch is rotten to the core.

 

In my country I have always respected the police and I have never had any run ins with them. Their motto of “to serve and to protect” seemed very appropriate. I always thought of police as a protective force that I would run to if I was in trouble. Prior to this experience, I also thought of Philippines police in the same vein that I would run to them if I ever found myself in trouble. But after this experience, I think I will keep a wide berth as much as possible.

 

Related to this I have several questions that I hope some members will answer.

- If I did not pay the money, what would I be charged with and how serious would be the offense (ie having a bullet in your check bag)?

 

- If I was charged, what is the process that would be followed?

 

-What would you do if you were in my situation?

 

 

seaman

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just can't understand what you'd want with a bullet, don't mean to be nasty, but pretty dumb move on your part to put it in your luggage....

I would have offered 7000, so they could figure out how to divide it evenly without a calculator.

I reckon a lot of it comes down to luck. I brought in a brand new bass guitar and two brand new 30 watt amplifiers. They spotted the amps going through the x-ray and I was asked to pull one out, then

just can't understand what you'd want with a bullet, don't mean to be nasty, but pretty dumb move on your part to put it in your luggage....

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For Real

Were you actually surprised the police/security were crooked in the RP? This close to xmas?

My guess is you will not carry a bullet, vibrator or anything slightly incriminating again through security to avoid being bent over the interview table in future

Edited by Malipayon Puti
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Experienced

 

-What would you do if you were in my situation?

 

seaman

 

I would have offered 7000, so they could figure out how to divide it evenly without a calculator.

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USMC-Retired

Did they let you keep that 10,000 Peso Bullet?

 

I have to say that has to be one of the most expensive bullets on the planet. Yet there is a sign as you enter prior to going through the first X-Ray. I know you have to declare certain items prior to going through it. Is Firearms on the list. If so you were really in deep. Lucky for crooked cops or you would have missed the flight and everything else.

 

Mind you I do not think it is right.

Edited by Norseman
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Sorry, but I think you got off lightly.

 

At ANY airport anywhere in the world, guns, firearms or bombs are things that you keep well away from and dont even think, or joke, about.

 

Next time you see ANYTHING, DO NOT PICK IT UP. For, if it is a UK/ US or Western airport, you will find yourself in jail before you can even think about getting your wallet out.

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Don't mean to be rude, but what a stupid move. Your not in kansas anymore, this is the Philippines!!!! In any third world country, if I saw anything like that on the floor, I'd most definately ignore it.

You've learn't a lesson and really need to become more street wise if you want to survive in a 3rd world country like the Philippines. Unfortunately you won't get a lot of sympathy.

 

Good luck in your new life in the Philippines.

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SkyMan

At the mall. take the bullet to the nearest guard and make his day. Don't put it in your luggage. If you had done that in the US you wouldn't have made your flight and the fine might well have been much larger.

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Am I the only one that finds this story fishy? You were walking along in the mall and just happen to find a BULLET? Just laying there in the middle of the aisle? You're obviously a world traveler, experienced in the ins and outs of international airports yet you tried to sneek a bullet through security in your luggage? What were you going to do with this bullet? Why did you keep it? What caliber was it? Lastly and perhaps I'm off base here but I find it difficult to believe you were so fascinated by this forbidden object that, like a little boy who's found a playboy magazine, you just had to keep it. You've never SEEN a bullet? I thought all sailors at sea are armed. How do you deal with pirates?

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udonthani

the bullet could have been used in commission of a crime, for all you knew. What if it had been used to kill someone, and that someone else had just dumped it at the mall where you picked it up and that it was later found by the police to have been used in that crime. You would have been in really deep shit then. Anybody turning up with a bullet in their bag at just about any airport I can think of would have some explaining to do to security, and 'I found it in a mall, officer', may not cover too many bases for you.

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ArieBombarie

think these guys did you a favor really, amo is on the list of items you can not bring into a plane and who knows what shit you might have gotten yourself into had you traveled on with it and arrived in HK or Singapore with it

 

it might look like a shake down but I think here corruption was your friend, it is usually cheaper, picking up the real fine is just practical if you got a fixer higher up the tree who gives a good discount

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ArieBombarie

the bullet could have been used in commission of a crime, for all you knew. What if it had been used to kill someone, and that someone else had just dumped it at the mall where you picked it up and that it was later found by the police to have been used in that crime. You would have been in really deep shit then. Anybody turning up with a bullet in their bag at just about any airport I can think of would have some explaining to do to security, and 'I found it in a mall, officer', may not cover too many bases for you.

 

if it is a bullet that has been shot, I doubt it would be considered amo it is just a piece of lead than

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ArieBombarie

Am I the only one that finds this story fishy? You were walking along in the mall and just happen to find a BULLET? Just laying there in the middle of the aisle? You're obviously a world traveler, experienced in the ins and outs of international airports yet you tried to sneek a bullet through security in your luggage? What were you going to do with this bullet? Why did you keep it? What caliber was it? Lastly and perhaps I'm off base here but I find it difficult to believe you were so fascinated by this forbidden object that, like a little boy who's found a playboy magazine, you just had to keep it. You've never SEEN a bullet? I thought all sailors at sea are armed. How do you deal with pirates?

well dutch sailors deal with them at best with water hoses but tbh the fascination to keep it and take it and travel with it sounds pretty dumb, you are not allowed to own life amo without a permit I am sure

Edited by ArieBombarie
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yeah the police would have had a field day with you and a bullet, they would not understand your reasons and would just think you are a stupid gun owner that has managed to hide his gun but not the bullets. Yes the police are very corrupt, welcome to the Philippines and this is another lesson why you must always have some cash on you to pay a bribe if your life could depend on it. You don't know, if you had not paid it that bullet might have had a useful purpose?. You get some good things there, nice women, cheap hotels, cheap food, nice beaches etc but on the flip side deadly jails, the most corrupt police force anywhere etc etc, Enjoy the best things, avoid the bad things as much as possible and that includes not doing silly things like picking bullets up off the ground.

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Headshot

Seaman, I don't know what you were expecting from the forum members, but if you can't act any smarter than that, you should probably turn around and head for home. Don't listen to Whippy though. Any bullet used in the commission of a crime has already been fired, and therefore is just a slug. From your story, I take it that the bullet was unfired. In the future, don't even touch something like this when you are traveling. If you feel the need, alert a security guard about the bullet, but don't touch it. If you really want to live in the Philippines, you need to keep your head on straight at ALL times, and it certainly wasn't in this case. You were very lucky. In MANY countries, this would get you tossed into a cell. You certainly don't want to be in a cell in the Philippines.

Edited by Headshot
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