18 PH immigration officers suspended over extortion

Robie de Guzman   •   April 9, 2019   •   2340

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the suspension of 18 Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers and employees for allegedly extorting P9.2 million from South Korean nationals.

DOJ spokesperson, Undersecretary Markk Perete said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued an order for the suspension of 18 immigration personnel for 90 days, pending investigation on the charges against them.

“The Justice Secretary, after evaluating the sworn statements of the Korean nationals as well as the documentary evidence provided by the BI, found a prima facie case against said officers and employees for grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service,” Perete said in a statement.

The order came after BI Commissioner Jaime Morente himself asked the DOJ to suspend the said immigration agents accused of extorting from 15 Korean nationals who were apprehended last March 6 in Angeles City, Pampanga for alleged overstaying.

The Koreans were allegedly forced to give out money which amounted to P9.2 million under threat of detention.

“The Secretary also ordered them to submit their respective answers within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of the formal charge issued against them,” Perete said.

He added that the DOJ is currently evaluating the proper course of action as regard with the job order contractors who allegedly participated in the extortion incident.

In line with the probe, a fact-finding panel has also been formed by the BI to verify the allegations against its 18 personnel. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also conducting a separate probe for possible filing of criminal charges.

Usec. Perete said the BI agents may face dismissal from government service, depending on the findings of the investigation.

“If they are found guilty, they may be terminated from employment with loss of all benefits and prohibition from engagement in government,” Perete said. – Robie de Guzman

Senate asks DOJ for protection of witnesses vs. ‘ninja cops’

Maris Federez   •   October 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Wednesday (Oct. 16) requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to give protection to the witnesses in the Agaw-Bato operations of the so-called “ninja cops”.

In a phone interview, Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said they want to ensure that the testimonies of the witnesses are filed before the Court.

“[It] means that they will go to the court and they will execute an affidavit there. And in which case, if anything happens, hopefully not, that will be admissible in court,” Gordon added.

Among the witnesses that Gordon was referring to were the barangay officials that Johnson Lee sought help from when he was arrested in the police buy-bust operation in November 2010 in the province of Pampanga.

Other witnesses were the police personnel in Mexico, Pampanga, where the alleged cover-up took place when the barangay officials brought Lee to the station.

Lee reportedly paid P50-M to the police for his release.

After releasing Lee, the police arrested another Chinese suspect.

Gordon said they will leave it to the DOJ to determine whether these officers deserve to be under the government’s witness protection program (WPP).

The senator also said they will let Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, retired police Rudy Lacadin, and the other police officers decide if they want to undergo the said process.

Justice Sec. Guevarra said they shall await the Senate’s formal request before they set into action.

Meanwhile, Gordon said they will try their best to complete the committee report on their investigation on the said illegal operation in the police force.

The Blue Ribbon Committee chairman said that included in the report are the possible recommendations as to who must be held liable on the said illegal activity.

He stressed that resigned-Philippine National Police (PNP) chief PGen. Oscar Albayalde will still be facing charges relative to the said controversy.

“Tanungin ninyo ako kung pwede pa siyang kasuhan (Ask me if he can be charged). The answer is yes. Tanungin ninyo ko kung criminal. (Ask me if it’s a criminal [case]).  The answer could be yes, kung may enough evidence kami (if we have enough evidence). And I think we do,” Gordon said. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

DOJ begins reinvestigation on 2013 drug raid

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 16, 2019

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra

The Department of Justice has begun reinvestigation of the 2013 Pampanga drug raid involving 13 cops allegedly involved in illegal drug recycling.

The 13 cops were ordered to attend the investigation and submit additional evidence.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra previously formed a three-member panel to reinvestigate the case where around 160 kilos of suspected illegal drugs were seized during an operation in Pampanga.

The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), meanwhile, requested the DOJ panel for more time to submit records about alleged drug lord Johnson Lee and Ding Wengkun.

The DOJ panel will give the PNP-CIDG five days to submit additional evidence and supplemental affidavit.

Meanwhile, PMaj. Rodney Baloyo was given a subpoena by the DOJ for not attending the preliminary investigation.

Baloyo is currently at New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa after the Senate cited him in contempt for allegedly lying during a hearing.

“We still issued subpoena to the said respondent and even wrote a letter to the Senate president asking permission for him to be allowed in this proceedings,” according to state prosecutor Senior Assistant Atty. Alexander Suarez. —AAC (with reports from April Cenedoza)

BI to deport alleged ex-Yakuza member wanted for fraud in Japan

Robie de Guzman   •   October 7, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is set to deport a Japanese national, allegedly a former member of the Yakuza crime syndicate, who is wanted by the authorities for fraud.

The BI on Monday said its Fugitive Search Unit arrested 71-year old Katsumi Ohno in an operation conducted last Sept. 30 on Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City.

Arresting agents nabbed Ohno on the strength of a warrant of deportation order issued by the BI Board of Commissioners last June 20.

The BI said the Japanese Embassy sought for the suspect’s deportation last February following information that Ohno is facing a standing arrest warrant for fraud issued by a Japanese court.

The bureau also learned that the suspects’ passport had expired last November 2018, making him an undocumented alien.

Investigation revealed that Ohno arrived in the Philippines as a tourist in 2011 and has been hiding here since.

Ohno is currently detained at the BI jail in Bicutan, Taguig City.

He has also been included in the immigration blacklist to prevent him from returning to the Philippines.

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