NBI nabs one for human trafficking in Cotabato City

Marje Pelayo   •   August 24, 2021   •   401

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (NBI-BARMM) on Tuesday (August 24) announced the arrest of an individual in an entrapment operation in Cotabato City for human trafficking.

Authorities identified the suspect as Bai Sofia Tuas.

According to NBI Officer-in-Charge and Director Eric Distor, the operation stemmed from an information received by the NBI-BARMM regarding the alleged proliferation of human trafficking activities in Cotabato City.

The NBI-BARMM immediately conducted a validation of the information which revealed the alias “Bea” or alias “Pia” as one of the perpetrators.

After two weeks, the NBI was able to establish communication with Tuas and came to an agreement that the latter would provide nine female sex workers for P5,000 each.

Tuas agreed to undercover agents to meet at a hotel in Cotabato City where the female sex workers will be brought.

On August 18, agents from the NBI along with representatives from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Development of BARMM proceeded to the vicinity of the agreed meeting place.

Tuas then informed the undercover agent that they were already inside the hotel room.

After the undercover agents handed over the marked money as payment for the sex workers, they immediately signaled other operatives that the transaction has been done, prompting them to apprehend the suspect and rescue the nine trafficked victims.

Tuas was presented for inquest proceedings before the City Prosecutor’s Office of Cotabato City for violation of R.A. 9208 as amended by R.A. 10364.

Japan pledges food aid to Bangsamoro farmers, fisherfolks

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Japan has committed to provide 350 million yen in food assistance to farmers, fisherfolks, and other vulnerable sectors in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), its embassy in Manila said Thursday.

In a statement, the embassy said the grant aid will be implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP), which will procure approximately 1,788 metric tons of Japanese rice for distribution to beneficiaries.

The project seeks to support around 9,877 farming and fishing households, including decommissioned combatants and indigenous peoples in Bangsamoro.

“To supplement the food and nutrition needs of the targeted population, the Japanese rice will be fortified with iron prior to distribution,” the embassy said.

“Through this undertaking, vulnerable and conflict-affected communities in BARMM are expected to have improved food security, resilience, and livelihood, which will enhance peace and achieve development in the Region,” it added.

The food aid project for BARMM was signed between Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko and WFP Representative and Country Director Brenda Barton.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Theresa Lazaro and BARMM Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform Deputy Minister Ammal Solaiman also witnessed the event.

Duterte OKs postponement of Bangsamoro elections

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the law resetting the 2022 elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to 2025, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte signed the Republic Act 11593 on Oct. 28.

“Pinirmahan ni Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte ang Republic Act # 11593 kahapon, October 28, 2021, na nagri-reset po ng eleksyon sa Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao sa 2025,” Roque said.

The law amended the Bangsamoro Organic Law and stated that BARMM’s first regular elections shall be held and synchronized with the 2025 elections.

“Sang-ayon po sa batas na ito, binibigyan ng kapangyarihan ang ating Presidente na mag-appoint ng hanggang walumpu or 80 new interim members of the BTA who shall serve until June 30, 2025 or until their successors shall have been elected and qualified,” Roque said.

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) will oversee the region until the 2025 polls.

The BTA is a provisional law-making body of the BARMM which is currently under a transition phase.

3 nabbed for illegal sale of COVID-19 drugs in Pasay

Robie de Guzman   •   October 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Three individuals accused of engaging in unauthorized selling of medicines used to treat novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were arrested in Pasay City, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Tuesday.

NBI Officer-In-Charge (OIC) director Eric Distor identified the suspects as Karen Amero, Ronaldo Ceriola, and Erickson Soriano.

Distor said the NBI launched the operation after it received a request for investigation and possible entrapment operation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the alleged illegal sale of COVID-19 drugs such as Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Baricitinib among others.

The medicines are allegedly being sold thru online platforms such as Facebook, Shopee, and Lazada.

According to FDA Advisory No. 2021-0759, Remdesivir is not approved by FDA for treatment of COVID-19 and has not been granted yet with Certificate of Product Registration (CPR). This means that the said medicine cannot be marketed commercially.

In addition, the use of Remdesivir for a limited amount and for a particular patient may only be allowed in hospitals or physicians who are granted with a Compassionate Special Permit (CSP).

The NBI said a test-buy conducted by FDA personnel on September 14, 2021 confirmed the unauthorized selling of Remdesivir by the suspects.

“After proper coordination with the concerned authorities, NBI-AGD operatives conducted the buy-bust operation on September 28, 2021 at the premises of Crestly Building located at Perla St., Pasay City resulting in the arrest of the subjects,” the agency said.

The NBI said that during the conduct of inspection, several medicines were found in the area with Ceriola and Soriano, who introduced themselves as delivery riders of LMCSL Trading.

Amero, who introduced herself as office manager of LMCSL Trading, resisted the arrest claiming that they have necessary license from FDA relative to the product they sell. She even proceeded to her unit located at the ground floor of Crestly Building to show her alleged license.

However, verification by the FDA revealed that it is the LMCSL Trading located at Caroyroyan, Pili, Camarines Sur has the existing License to Operate and not the one located at Crestly Building, Pasay City where the buy-bust operation took place.

Recovered from the suspects are various types of medicines including Ivirem-Remdesivir.

The suspects are facing charges for violation of Section 11(a), (j), and (k) of RA 3720 as amended by RA 9711 otherwise known as the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 and violation of Section 45(a) and (p) of RA 10918 otherwise known as the Philippine Pharmacy Act.

They are currently under the custody of NBI Detention Facility in Manila.

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