MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has approved the 30-day leave of absence filed by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chief Magtanggol Gatdula after he was implicated in an extortion case involving Japanese national Noriyo Ohara.
Ohara was arrested by NBI agents last October for being an illegal alien. Before the arrest, the Marzan family of Pangasinan allegedly took Ohara in their care after learning that the Japanese was attempting to escape from the Japanese Yakuza.
Two NBI agents allegedly asked the Marzan family for P100 million in exchange for Ohara’s release, an amount reduced to P15 million after negotiations. Half of the money was allegedly paid to the NBI agents.
Gatdula will be on leave from December 15 to January 15, but De Lima has opted not to designate an OIC in his absence.
De Lima has also prevented Ohara from being deported pending investigation. Ohara is not in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration.
“Ongoing din ang deportation proceedings. My directive or instruction to BI is that huwag munang ipapadeport at this time, kasi kailangan pa siya sa ongoing panel," the justice chief said.
"Pursuant to the power of supervision and control of the [Department of Justice] as the mother agency, kami na muna ang in charge ng NBI,” she added.
De Lima also said that Ohara would undergo a psychological examination by the Department of Health before he is invited for questioning.
In the meantime, De Lima directed the NBI to clear all documents for approval with the Office of the Secretary of Justice.
She said reports and recommendations on the case that will come from the DOJ panel should come out either before the Christmas break, or at the latest, before the New Year.
The Marzan family, as well as the implicated members of the NBI, have already given their testimonies.