DOJ continues efforts to dissolve illegal drugs trade in NBP

UNTV News   •   July 25, 2017   •   4060

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_072417_Antonio Kho

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation  (NBI) on Monday presented to the media the mobile phones and bladed weapons that were confiscated inside the maximum security compound at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) last Friday.

Although there were no drugs confiscated during the raid, the authorities have this to say about the status of drug trade inside the NBP.

“We have not eliminated and the president also recognizes this. We have not yet eliminated drug trading in the Philippines . . . drug trading in BuCor is a recognized fact so we are trying to minimize and eliminate this up to today,” DOJ Undersecretary Antonio Kho Jr. said.

Kho further reported that the DOJ, with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), continue its operation that will dissolve the illegal drugs trade inside the Bilibid.

“We will continue to implement courageously the mandate of the president to eliminate drugs particularly in the BuCor because of the so called resurgence of drug trading in that area,” DOJ Usec. Kho said.

The confiscated mobile phones will be subjected to forensic autopsy for easier tracing of personalities involved in the said illegal activities.

“Ito iyong unang part ng (this is the first part of the ) operation early morning on July 21 jointly carried out by the BuCor and the NBI, confiscation of illegal weapons and then iyong cellphones will be submitted for forensic autopsy. . . for us to know the extent the operation doon sa Bilibid,” NBI Spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said.

In a related story, the NBI Task Force Against Illegal Drugs launched another operation the same day.

This, after receiving information from the BuCor of a large-scale drugs trading in the south area of Metro Manila.

The group wasn’t able to catch any persons involved in the transportation of the illegal drugs but was able to take hold of an abandoned vehicle containing the illegal substances on a sidewalk in Ermita, Manila.

“More than 10 kilos of dangerous drugs . . . estimated street value of about 60 million,” Usec. Kho said.

Based on the tests conducted by the NBI-Forensic Chemistry division, the confiscated bags were positive of an illegal substance called Dimethoxy Methypphenethylanime.

Meanwhile, the DOJ confirms that a new set of battalion of the Special Action Force were assigned at the maximum security compound at the NBP to assist the BuCor in maintaining security and in monitoring any illegal drugs operation inside the facility. – Aiko Miguel | UNTV News and Rescue

NBI exec, brother face raps over alleged pastillas scam

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed graft and extortion complaints against its official and his brother from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) over the alleged ‘pastillas scheme.’

Atty. Joshua Paul Capiral, NBI’s legal assistance chief, and his brother, Christopher John, an officer at the BI’s medical section, underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice on Wednesday morning.

The brothers are facing extortion complaints under the Revised Penal Code, and violation of the Anti-Graft Practices Act, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and the Executive Order No. 608 which established the national security clearance system for government personnel with access to classified matters.

The two were arrested in an entrapment operation on Monday night for allegedly receiving bribes from individuals implicated in the pastillas scheme in exchange for exclusion from the charges.

Nineteen Immigration officers allegedly linked to the pastillas scheme are currently facing charges filed by the NBI at the Office of the Ombudsman last month.

The modus was called pastillas, derived from a Filipino sweet and sticky dessert, because the bribe money that some personnel receive were wrapped in paper.

The scheme allegedly takes advantage of Chinese casino high-rollers and offshore gaming workers who wish to be escorted to dodge the immigration screening process for a fee.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has ordered a reinvestigation into the pastillas scheme.

“Considering that the NBI investigation appeared to have been tainted, I will order a reinvestigation of the so-called ‘pastillas’ racket involving some unscrupulous BI employees,” he said in message to reporters.

Meanwhile, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente welcomed the development and assured support for the drive to cleanse the agency of corruption.

Morente also vowed to continue its campaign against corruption activities within the agency.

“We will continue to pursue our campaign against BI personnel engaged in corrupt activities in coordination with NBI and other law enforcement agencies in support of President Duterte’s desire to cleanse the agency,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Composite teams given 30 days to further probe PhilHealth mess – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The composite teams conducting investigation into the allegations of corruption within the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) have been given 30 days to further probe the issue, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they will ask the teams to finish their investigations into PhilHealth’s IT and legal sectors in a month.

“Then we’ll prepare the complaints if there’s enough evidentiary basis,” he added.

The composite teams consist of members from the DOJ, National Bureau of Investigation, Anti-Corruption Commission, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and Office of the Special Assistant to the President, with the help of the Commission on Audit.

Guevarra said the timeline will begin when recently-installed PhilHealth president and CEO Atty. Dante Gierran formally assumes his post after he takes his oath on Wednesday.

The Task Force PhilHealth led by Guevarra already handed its probe results to President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday.

The report contained findings into the thousands of unfiled cases against erring PhilHealth employees and health care institutions, as well as recommendations on the filing of complaints against several officials of the agency, including its former chief Ricardo Morales.

Some lawmakers have expressed dismay over the exclusion of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who sits as PhilHealth chairman by virtue of his position, from the list of officials liable for the PhilHealth mess.

But Guevarra earlier stressed that other officials were spared from the list because the investigation is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the camp of Morales assured that the former PhilHealth chief is ready to face the complaints relating to issues hounding the state insurer.

They also maintained that Morales had no hand in the alleged corruption within the agency.

“Our client is a man of integrity and completely denies any wrongdoings and the criminal charges against him,” Atty. Arnedo Valera, Morales’ legal spokesperson, said.

“His attorneys… will vigorously defend Gen. Morales and will appropriately respond to the criminal complaints either before the Department of Justice and or before the Ombudsman,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Pemberton case leaves lessons to ponder on for future of VFA – DOJ

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2020

US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton

MANILA, Philippines – The case of convicted killer US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton should be taken into account in reviewing the future of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

Guevarra made the remark following the deportation of Pemberton on Sunday morning, a few days after he was granted absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Justice chief believes that the issue also left lessons to ponder on regarding the administration of criminal justice in the country, as well as the presidential constitutional powers.

“I am relieved to see the end of Pemberton episode. Though attended with intense conflict, it has provided valuable insights and lessons to ponder on regarding the future of the visiting forces agreement, the administration of criminal justice, and the exercise of the president’s constitutional powers,” he said in a statement.

Pemberton departed from the country aboard a military aircraft bound for the United States at 9:14 a.m. on Sunday.

The Bureau of Immigration said that as a consequence of his deportation, Pemberton has been placed on the agency’s blacklist and can no longer return to the country.

“Perpetually banned na siya from entering the country and any attempt in the future to enter the Philippines hindi po siya papayagang pumasok. He will be excluded at pababalikin kung saan siya nanggaling,” said BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval.

The US serviceman was convicted of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude inside a motel in Olongapo City in 2014.

Duterte granted him absolute pardon after an Olongapo court ordered the Bureau of Corrections to recompute the time that Pemberton served and to determine if he is eligible to avail the good conduct time allowance rule. – RRD (with details from Correspendent Dante Amento)

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