THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) yesterday filed criminal and administrative charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the head of its legal assistance section for allegedly extorting money from Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers who have been dragged in the “pastillas” scam controversy.
Charged with robbery extortion in violation of Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employees were lawyer Joshua Paul Capiral and his brother, Christopher John, who is an employee of the BI’s medical section.
They were also charged for violation of Executive Order No.608 Series of 2007 or the Establishment of a National Security Clearance System for Government Personnel with Access to Classified Matters.
The two underwent inquest proceedings at the DOJ.
An inquest is a summary of proceedings wherein a prosecutor determines whether an individual who was arrested without a warrant should remain in detention and face charges in court or be released.
The Capiral brothers declined to give a statement to the media.
They also told the prosecutor handling the case that they “will not avail of our right to preliminary investigation” and “agreed to remain in the NBI custody.”
With this, the DOJ is expected to finish its investigation quickly.
BI officer Jeffrey Dale Salameda Ignacio who is being linked to the scam and NBI Special Action Unit special investigator Joel Otic were named as complainants in the cases filed against the Capirals.
NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said the Capirals were arrested by the NBI Special Action Unit in an entrapment operation last Monday based on tips given by Ignacio that they were allegedly demanding P100,000 each from immigrations agents who wanted their names dropped from the NBI’s complaint sheet in relation to the pastillas scam controversy.
Joshua Paul handled the NBI’s investigation into the scandal. His team has initially filed criminal charges against 19 BI officials, including acting Port Operations Division head Grifton Medina, said to be part of the pastillas conspiracy, which involved the speedy and hassle-free entry of mostly Chinese tourists, high-casino players and workers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) outlets in exchange for a fee.
Lavin said Christopher John acted as the middleman between the NBI lawyer and those involved in the scam who wanted to be excluded from the case.
An NBI insider said the Capirals were caught receiving marked money from Ignacio in the amount of P200,000.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the filing of the cases against the Capirals should serve as a warning to corrupt public officials and employees that their illegal activities will not be condoned.
“The apprehension of a ranking official of the NBI is a stern warning to all that corruption and other criminal activities will not be tolerated, especially in agencies which are supposed to be the pillars in the administration of criminal justice,” Guevarra said.
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon urged the NBI to file a disbarment case against Joshua Paul.
“Bantay salakay ang tawag dito. ‘Yung inatasan na mag-imbestiga sa katiwalian sila yung gumagawa ng katiwalian (Dishonest custodian is what we call these kind of people. He was tasked to investigate anomalies and yet he is the one who does illegal acts). 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,” Drilon said in an interview with dzMM’s Teleradyo.
Drilon said aside from filing criminal and administrative charges, the NBI must make sure that Capiral loses his license as a lawyer for what he did.
“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.
Asked whether the case of Capiral warrants a Senate investigation, Drilon responded that he will support an investigation if there is evidence of massive corruption in NBI, like in the case of PhilHealth and the BI. – With Raymond Africa