NBI exec, brother face raps over alleged 'pastillas scheme' extortion

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2020 11:23 AM | Updated as of Sep 23 2020 12:20 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) – The National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday filed multiple charges against one of its own officials and his brother over their alleged involvement in extorting money from Immigration personnel tagged in the “pastillas scheme.”
 
Agents of the NBI Special Action Unit filed with the Department of Justice complaints for extortion and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials against lawyer Joshua Capiral, head of the NBI Legal Assistance Section, and his brother, Christopher John Capiral who works for the Bureau of Immigration.
 
The brothers, who were arrested in an entrapment operation at the NBI on Monday, are also accused of violating Executive Order 608, which established a national security clearance system for government personnel with access to classified matters.

The brothers allegedly extorted P100,000 from those implicated in the pastillas scheme in exchange for exclusion from the charges.
 
The pastillas scheme involved Immigration officers facilitating the illegal entry of Chinese into the country in exchange for money wrapped in paper, similar to the delicacy. 
 
NBI agents said that they found it suspicious that Capiral, the NBI official who can recommend who should be charged, included only 4 people for prosecution out of the 40 involved despite strong evidence. 
 
The NBI ended up filing complaints against 19 people last month and is investigating a second batch of complaints. 
 
The brothers appeared before the DOJ on Wednesday morning for inquest but refused to give any statement. The complaint against them has been submitted for resolution.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Capiral the lawyer will be charged administratively.
 
“This is a warning to all NBI personnel, regardless of rank, that corruption within the agency will not be tolerated,” he said.

"The apprehension of a ranking official of the NBI is a stern warning to all that corrupt and other criminal activities will not be tolerated, especially in agencies which are supposed to be the pillars in the administration of criminal justice," he said in a separate statement.

The justice chief said he would leave it to NBI to determine if a re-shuffle of personnel is needed.
 
Guevarra also said he would order a reinvestigation into the pastillas scheme.

In a Senate probe Tuesday, columnist Ramon Tulfo accused former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II of masterminding the pastillas scheme and of receiving money in his hometown Mulanay, Quezon delivered through a chopper. 
 
Aguirre, who was not included as a respondent, denied the allegation.