MANILA, Philippines — A Filipina charged and jailed in Brunei for possessing a bullet, which she wore an amulet, was released on September 1 after spending 10 days in detention at the Jerudong Prison, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.
In her report to the home office, Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Virginia Benavidez said the public prosecutor said it did not wish to pursue the criminal case against Florida Narvarte Norman on “compassionate grounds.”
The public prosecutor also told the magistrate court that the Filipina did not pose a threat to the security of Brunei Darussalam following a background check on her.
Norman, a permanent resident of Australia, her Australian husband Peter, and her one-year-old son John Rainier, were traveling to the Philippines from Darwin, Australia, via Brunei Darussalam, when arrested.
The Normans were about to board their connecting flight to Manila when she was arrested at the departure hall of Brunei International Airport on August 21 after a bullet was found in her wallet in a routine check.
During the police investigation, she explained that her father gave her the bullet as an amulet during her university days in the Philippines. She has since kept it as a lucky charm.
Norman was the third Filipino national charged in court for possession of a live bullet.
In August and October last year, two Filipino nationals were arrested at Brunei International Airport and charged with the same offense. All three admitted that the live bullets were used as amulets and lucky charms.
The Philippine embassy in Brunei again appealed to all Filipinos traveling to or transiting in Brunei not to carry any live bullets.
“Such amulets or lucky charms could turn out to be magnets for unfortunate incidents during the trip. Brunei’s Arms and Explosives Act is very stringent and punishes the unauthorized possession of ammunition with imprisonment of five to 15 years…and whipping with not less than three strokes and more than 12 strokes,” it said in its advisory.
“A very strict security screening procedure is conducted at the Brunei International Airport, Bandar Seri Begawan prior to departures of passengers,” it added.
The DFA said Norman’s case was dismissed through the collective efforts and close coordination among the Philippine embassy and Brunei’s Attorney General’s Chambers, and the Royal Brunei Police Force.
The Normans thanked the ambassador for the embassy’s assistance and support, particularly that of lawyer Neil Brillantes, who handled her case. They returned to the Philippines on September 4.