MANILA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was able to obtain photographs of the alleged two assassins sent out by the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel to liquidate two Canadian citizens and a Filipino nabbed in a recent drug raid conducted by the bureau in two upscale condominiums in Metro Manila, according to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
De Lima said the intention is to "silence" the suspects.
The NBI is investigating the suspects' alleged links to the Sinaloa cartel.
"That was also reported to me; in fact, that was part of our discussion with (BI) Bureau of Immigration. We had a meeting last Friday, a joint meeting with NBI and BI.
"May dalawa sent dito or being sent dito to access etong mga nahuli na nila, to 'silence' them so inalert na rin yung BI. Canadians yata. In fact, there are photos of these two alleged assassins," De Lima said.
The alleged assassins' photographs were shared by the NBI with the BI so that their entry to the Philippines may be monitored.
De Lima admitted that backdoor entry may be used by these alleged assassins.
AuthoritIes are trying to determine if these personalities are already in the country.
"We don't know if nakapasok na... if they try to enter backdoor, mahihirapan tayo," De Lima said.
Canadians James Riach and Barry Espadilla were nabbed at separate simultaneous raids in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig and Makati City last Jan. 15 that yielded various illegal drugs, including cocaine and shabu.
Both have been convicted of criminal offenses in Canada.
According to the website of the Vancouver Sun, Riach was convicted in 2010 for possession and careless storage of a loaded .45-calibre semi-automatic pistol, while Espadilla was convicted of manslaughter, and heroin and cocaine possession.
TIGHTER MEASURES AT THE AIR AND SEAPORTS
De Lima met with NBI and BI last week to discuss measures on how to detect entering foreign nationals with criminal records overseas.
Riach and Espadilla arrived in the Philippines undetected because there was no alert from the Interpol and Canadian authorities about their records, she said.
"Unfortunately, walang advise sa [NBI] from the Interpol or any other law enforcement agency of foreign countries, lalo na yung country of origin nila. Kaya wala sa database ng BI.
"It was explaiend to us by [BI] Commissioner Siegfred Mison na ang nilalagay... na mga dero o derogatory [information] na ininput nila sa database nila ay tungkol lang sa kanilang stay as aliens: status tama ba, mayroon ba silang visa, passport, ano klaseng passport, nag-overstay na ba sila?
"Ganoon lang naiinput nila. Yung criminal record, pag walang official communication or advise from the foreign law authorities concerned, hindi yan nalalagay... kaya hindi natunugan," De Lima stressed.