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NBI official arrested over bribery allegations for clearance in 'pastillas scheme' probe

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NBI official arrested over bribery allegations for clearance in 'pastillas scheme' probe
This file photo shows the National Bureau of Investigation office in Manila.
Philstar.com / Google Street View, File

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation arrested their colleague for alleged bribery and corruption in clearing Bureau of Immigration personnel from their probe into the “pastillas” scheme.

NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin, also bureau spokesperson, confirmed that agents arrested NBI’s Legal Assistance Section chief Joshua Paul Capiral in an entrapment operation on Monday night.

Lavin, however, said details on the case are not yet available. “Still waiting post-operation and investigation reports from agent on case,” he said.

The NBI was tasked to investigate “pastillas” scheme, a money-making scheme to facilitate entry of Chinese nationals into the Philippines. Early in September, NBI filed graft complaints to 19 BI officials.

Capiral’s arrest was also confirmed by NBI Anti-human Trafficking Division chief, lawyer Janet Francisco at the resumption of the Senate hearing into the “pastillas scheme” on Tuesday morning.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate panel, asked Francisco to confirm that Capiral was arrested for accepting bribes from those linked to the “pastillas scheme” so they will not be included in the respondents of the complaints the bureau is preparing.

Francisco replied in Filipino: “Yes ma’am, I verified that information that an official of the legal service was arrested in an entrapment operation.”

In the same hearing, Hontiveros urged the NBI to file complaints against “masterminds” of the money-making scheme, noting that witness Allison Chiong said those facing raps are only “foot soldiers” and not the “big fish” in this corruption modus.

Francisco, however, said investigation is still ongoing to determine the identities of the BI staff that paid Capiral in exchange of clearance from the complaints prepared and filed by the NBI. She also said she received information that Capiral has a brother working at the Immigration bureau.

A separate report from News5, meanwhile, said Capiral’s brother working at the BI was also arrested on Monday night.

Lavin said complaints will be filed at the Department of Justice on Tuesday. — Kristine Joy Patag with report from News5/Romel Lopez

BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION

NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

PASTILLAS SCHEME

RISA HONTIVEROS

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