NBI reiterates warning against purveyors of fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2020   •   626

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday reiterated its warning to prosecute those found spreading false information online relating to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

NBI Cybercrime Division Chief, Atty. Victor Lorenzo repeated the warning during an interview at UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan program hosted by Daniel Razon, which tackles various concerns of the public amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

During the program, a complainant named Carissa Ann Rodriguez, a resident of Barangay 591 in Manila asked for help after her neighbors posted false information along with her photo on Facebook, alleging that she is infected with coronavirus.

“Kahihiyan po talaga, kasi kumalat po eh, may picture po at may mukha po talaga buong picture ko po tapos ang nakalagay po kasi “mag-ingat sa taong ‘to pagala-gala nanghahawa, positive COVID-19 victim siya tumakas siya sa ospital,” she recounted.

She said she no longer ventures outside of her home as she was deeply embarrassed by the incident even if it was not true.

Lorenzo said the NBI has been receiving and investigating similar complaints as part of the government’s campaign against the spread of fake news, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The NBI is going after misinformation online pursuant to Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code or the Unlawful Use of Means of Publication in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The recently-signed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act also provides a fine of P1 million and up to 12 years imprisonment for purveyors of false information.

“Yung sa article 154 kasi publication ng false news ‘yun na may tendency to endanger public order tulad nyan pag sinabi mo na sa isang barangay may infected na talagang medyo magpa-panic yung mga tao doon sa barangay,” he said.

“At the same time, sa Bayanihan Act naman ay pwedeng may violation kasi yung publication ng fake news nagkakaroon ng chaos at the same time disturbance sa public,” he added.

Through UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan program, Carissa was able to file a complaint against those who spread misinformation against her.

Lorenzo said other victims of false information on social media platforms may also lodge their complaint to the NBI via its online channels as they encourage social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Because of the incident now yung crisis natin ina-avoid natin yung contact, pinapayagan namin sila mag-file ng formal request for investigative assistance,” he said.

“Kung kailangan talaga makipag-coordinate sa amin ang Facebook o kami ang makipag-coordinate sa Facebook, at least official yung communication namin sa kanila,” he added.

Lorenzo also called on others who became a subject of fake news to come forward and file a complaint to help authorities stop the deliberate spread of misinformation amid the public health crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Grace Casin)

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)

Drilon wants NBI legal exec tagged in ‘pastillas scheme’ disbarred

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Frankiln Drilon on Wednesday urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to file a disbarment case against its official who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the ‘pastillas scheme’ in the Bureau of Immigration.

Drilon made the call following the arrest of Atty. Joshua Capiral, NBI’s head of legal assistance division, for allegedly accepting bribes from persons involved in the modus in exchange for exclusion from charges.

“Bantay salakay ang tawag dito. Yung inatasan na mag-imbestiga sa katiwalian sila yung gumagawa ng katiwalian,” he said in an interview over Teleradyo.

“He is a disgrace to the legal profession. We lawyers took an oath to tell nothing but the truth. Capiral violated that sacred oath of lawyers. All he did in the NBI is to enrich himself through corruption,” he added.

When asked whether the case of Capiral warrants a Senate investigation, Drilon said he will support an investigation if there is evidence of massive corruption in NBI – like in the case of PhilHealth and the Bureau of Immigration.

“At this point I think there is no evidence of massive corruption in the NBI. This is a laudable move for the NBI to arrest one of its members. The NBI should make an example out of Capiral that corruption has no place in the agency,” Drilon said.

“If we do not address this, everybody will believe that they can bribe the NBI and having that perception is not good in the fight against corruption,” he added.

Capiral was nabbed in an entrapment operation on Monday night. He underwent inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice on Wednesday morning.

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

Drilon said that Capiral’s case is among the reasons why the public tend to lose confidence in the government’s ability to stop corruption.

“This is one of the reasons why Filipinos are losing faith in the ability of the government to fight corruption. This only shows how rampant corruption is today,” he said.

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NBI forensic team, nasa Jolo na para sa imbestigasyon sa Jolo bombings

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2020

Dumating na sa Jolo, Sulu ang forensic team na ipinadala ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) para tumulong sa pagsasagawa ng imbestigasyon sa nangyaring magkasunod na pagsabog doon noong Lunes.

Ayon kay Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, inatasan na niya ang grupo na i-secure ang pinangyarihan ng pagsabog pati na ang mga ebidensiyang makakalap mula sa lugar.

May sampung araw ang NBI forensic team para magsumite ng inisyal na ulat at makakuha ng sapat na ebidensiya para sa pagsasampa ng kaukulang kaso sa mga nasa likod ng pag-atake.

“The NBI can identify the nationality of the alleged suicide bombers and their co-conspirators after a thorough investigation,” ani Guevarra.

Una nang sinabi ng Philippine Army na dalawang babaeng suicide bomber ang nasa likod ng pambobomba.

Kinilala ang mga ito na sina alyas Nanah mula sa Basilan at asawa ni Norman Lasuca na kauna-unahang naitalang Filipino suicide bomber; at si alyas Inda Nay na mula naman sa Tawi-Tawi at asawa ng nasawing suspected terrorist na si Abu Talha.

Ang dalawang babaeng suicide bombers ay kabilang umano sa mga sinusundan ng apat na sundalong napatay ng mga pulis sa Jolo noong Hunyo 29.

Samantala, tiniyak naman ni Guevarra na ipatutupad ng pamahalaan ang Anti-Terrorism Law ng naayon sa batas bagaman wala pang inilalabas na implementing rules and regulations para rito.

Na kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na rin aniya ang desisyon kung muling magdedeklara ng martial law sa Mindanao, partikular na sa Sulu, kasunod ng pambobomba sa bayan ng Jolo.

“If it’s an act of lawless violence, the president may use his calling-out power to suppress further violence under Sec 18, art VII of the Constitution. If it’s an act of rebellion, and public safety requires it, the President may declare martial law in that part of Mindanao,” ani Guevarra

Una nang iminungkahi ng militar ang pagsasailalim sa martial law sa Sulu upang mapigilan ang iba pang plano ng mga terorista.

Ngunit tutol rito si dating Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan Sr. dahil hindi naman aniya napipigilan ng martial law ang mga insidente ng karahasan sa lalawigan.

“Object kami dyan, ayaw naming. Hindi tama ang solusyon na yan, ilang beses na sinubukang mag-martial  law di naman naalis ang giyera dito e,” ani Tan. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Dante Amento)

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