BY DUCKY PAREDES
‘Upon taking over the NBI, Gatdula introduced numerous reforms to improve facilities, systems and human resources development.’
NBI director Magtanggol is on forced leave, while the Department of Justice investigates an alleged kidnapping by the officers and men of the NBI itself. The extortion of a Japanese national by an NBI unit is certainly an unexpected turn of events. It is also a strange one.
The Japanese national, Noriyo Ohara, 32, entered the country on a Philippine Government red passport in 2009. At the airport, she was met at planeside by an Immigration official and brought to Bugallon, Pangasinan to the house of the Marzan family, which includes Rosemarie Marzan Ugawa, Jacqueline Marzan Suzuki and a Cristina Vinluan.
According to the Marzans, Ohara flew to the Philippines to escape the Yakuza, who had killed her father and also wanted to do her in.
The NBI involvement started when the Security Management Division (SMD) Chief Mario A. Garcia says he received a letter written by Ms. Ohara, asking for assistance. This was on Oct. 28, 2011.
Ohara’s story was that she owned a house and lot in Las Piñas City and two cars (a BMW and a Honda Citi) but these properties are registered in the name of the Marzans. She wanted to recover her assets and free herself from their grip.
On Oct. 29, the SMD team, headed by SMD executive director Jose Odelon Cabillan raided the Marzan home in Pangasinan. The Marzans did not resist when they took Ohara. She voluntarily went with the team.
Ohara stayed at the NBI building under SMD custody. She was allowed visits by the Marzan family, to move freely and even leave the NBI premises from time to time.
The Marzans claimed later that Garcia extorted money from the family for Ohara’s freedom, that huge sums changed hands. Garcia denies the charges.
The case reached Director Gatdula’s attention when he received information that the SMD was holding a Japanese national in custody, that she was a fugitive from Japan who entered the country with a Philippine passport. The information included an allegation of extortion.
Immediately, Gatdula had Garcia, Cabilla and the SMD unit investigated. Gatdula relieved the lot from their posts, pending investigation of their case.
Are NBI officials now involved in kidnapping? That is also what Director Gatdula wants to know. Apparently, as a newcomer to the NBI having just come in with the PNoy presidency, Gatdula did not know Garcia, Cabilla and other old timers in the bureau too well.
Before his forced leave, Gatdula sought the help of the Japanese Embassy to look after Ohara’s welfare and safety. But Secretary de Lima ordered the turnover of Ohara from the NBI to the Bureau of Immigration to determine her status and stay in the country.
Who is Magtanggol B. Gatdula?
Lawyer, retired PNP general, former Director of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), alumnus of the FBI National Academy, one of the “Fighting 60″ of the Philippine Constabulary in Sulu, former student activist, he got into police work when his father Silvino, a policeman, asked him to take the entrance exam of the Philippine Military Academy, which he passed.
That was the start of a career in what turned out to be an outstanding one in law enforcement. He cleaned up Quezon City which, at the time he came in as Police Chief was known as the “Canapping Capital..”
When Gatdula came in as NBI director, the bureau was streamlined to make it more effective and efficient despite its meager budget. Much more was expected of Gatdula. He is a respected lawyer, a friend of the poor. He has led a successful career as a senior officer of the Philippine National Police. As a police officer, Gatdula was clean, with not even a hint of anything untoward.
Upon taking over the NBI, Gatdula introduced numerous reforms to improve facilities, systems and human resources development. Under his watch, the NBI captured Rolando Fajardo, one of the country’s most wanted, busted the West African drug Syndicate, energized the Anti-Human Trafficking Division and strengthened the Intellectual Property Rights Office.
He has improved facilities and public services at the bureau. The NBI spearheaded the investigation of the De la Salle bombing incident, the Globe Asiatic fiasco and the Luneta hostage crisis.
Gatdula wants the Ohara case solved, the involvement of the Marzans investigated and the culpability of the Security Management Division accounted for.
In the quest for truth, the government should also look into the following questions:
Who at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued Noriyo Ohara the red Philippine government passport? Who helped her acquire important travel papers?
Who at the Bureau of Immigration helped her on arrival at planeside, skipping regular entry procedures to enter the country illegally?
What are the real interests of the Marzans in giving Ohara shelter and sanctuary?
What is the truth behind her claim that the Marzans seized her house, lot, vehicles and other property? That she wants to file charges against the Marzans?
Did Garcia and company extort money from Ohara and the Marzans, as claimed? How high up at the NBI does the level of corruption reach?
I agree with NBI watchers that historically, graft has visited the bureau at certain times. But, under PNoy’s Daang Matuwid and Gatdula’s watch, wasn’t this sort of thing supposed to have been decisively addressed and moderated, if not , altogether eliminated?
We await the conclusion of Secretary De Lima’s investigation. Hopefully, the guilty will be punished, the innocent cleared and the reforms at the NBI continue to be pursued, especially now that some more NBI rascals have been revealed and (hopefully) relieved and even imprisoned.
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