A congressional hearing on the NBI fiasco

- Bobit S. Avila -
A congressional inquiry was conducted at the Sacred Heart Center along D. Jakosalem St. by the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights into that bungled National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) operation which ended in the near fatal mishap of six employees of the Plantation Bay Resort last Dec. 13. The committee chaired by Rep. Etta Rosales was attended by Reps. Tony Cuenco, Raul del Mar, Jose Gullas and Nerissa Soon.

Earlier, there were certain groups who questioned the need for a congressional hearing on the blotched case done by inept agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), mainly because, historically, congressional hearings end up becoming more of a media circus and never resolve anything. However, while this was true to past congressional hearings, last Monday’s inquiry actually gave us a clearer picture of what happened on that fateful night of Dec. 13 when NBI agents shot a Mitsubishi van trying to run away from them because the six poor innocent employees of Plantation Bay Resort thought that they were being kidnapped!

Indeed, if we leave this up to the courts… I doubt if at this time, we could piece together what happened to that blotched operation and why it has become a national embarrassment to the otherwise very professional NBI, thanks to our snail’s paced justice system. Even now, we still have to hear the case of the Divine Master Ruben Ecleo of PBMA, a case that began as a parricide, become a national case when the police stormed his bastion in Dinagat Island and ended up with the massacre of his wife’s family here in Mandaue City the other year!

Anyway, during the congressional hearing, no less than NBI Chief Reynaldo Wycoco himself offered a letter of apology to the House committee and also apologized personally to at least four of the victim-employees of Plantation Bay Resort. In my book, no apology should ever be given if no one has been aggrieved. Hence, the NBI chief’s apology should be taken as some kind of "mea culpa" by his agency for what this operation caused to the victims.

It’s quite interesting to note that suspended NBI Regional Director Romulo Manapsal made a turn around and disowned that he authorized the bungled operation saying, "Since I don’t have knowledge about it, it follows that I did not authorize it." Yes, this is the same Dir. Manapsal who during a NBI presscon called just after the incident happened, admitted that the operation was legitimate. So what is it now?

Well, I guess that’s up to the courts to look into. The fact remains that Dir. Manapsal first admitted that it was a legitimate operation and probably because of this… he didn’t want to divulge the names of the confidential agents involved in that ill-fated operation. Hence, people here believe the NBI was out to whitewash this case!

However, one big question hanging before the congressional hearing was conducted was finally answered by the NBI chief when he categorically stated that the NBI agents involved in this case violated the rules of engagement and that he already terminated the services of all confidential agents before Dec. 13. That means, aside from finding this operation to be illegal, the NBI agents clearly used terminated confidential agents, which clearly changes the entire picture, because now this operation was "unauthorized!"

During the hearing, Agent Arnel Pura admitted to using these former confidential agents because they were "friends of the Bureau." Well friends or not… these people were no longer legitimate as they were already considered terminated and that includes ABS-CBN reporter Paul Lauro who was allegedly seen with a firearm when he opened the door of the badly shot at Mitsubishi Exceed van. While certain questions were answered in that congressional inquiry, but a lot still remain unanswered, which is why there’s a need for another congressional inquiry.

For instance, we’d really like to know who were the other confidential agents who participated in that operation? Out of the supposedly 12 civilian agents who participated in that operation, only seven have been named by the NBI. Now why hasn’t the NBI expose them yet, now that it is clear that this operation was illegal, to start with? Since only three of the NBI agents were found positive to have power burns, there is really no doubt that the former confidential agents also fired at the van… so who are these people?

Clearly, the hearing revealed that NBI Director Manapsal wasn’t told about this operation, although he said that he would have authorized it, which therefore tells you that the NBI agents clearly acted on their own… hence, there really is no reason why the entire Bureau would risk ruining its reputation by trying to defend these obviously indefensible NBI agents. Let’s hope that the next congressional inquiry would uncover who where the other "terminated" confidential agents involved in this case.
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The Blackbox: To our valued readers, today we begin our 3rd column for the week… that means, "Inside Cebu" now comes out on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Thanks for your continued readership! God Bless you all!











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