Friday, November 6, 2015

NBI exec: Too early to link ‘laglag bala’ to syndicate

The head of the task force looking into the alleged "laglag bala" extortion racket on Thursday said it's still too early to conclude that an alleged syndicate is behind the supposed scheme plaguing the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
"It's too early to say that. Hindi po ako ang nagsabi niyan. Wala pa tayo diyan sa stage na iyan. Masyado pang malayo to make that conclusion," lawyer Manuel Eduarte told GMA News Online in an interview.
His statement was in response to a report quoting an NBI source that "initial findings" show that a syndicate has already been "confirmed" to be planting bullets and harassing travelers in the airport.
Eduarte asked how the seven-man task force could have come out with "initial findings" when the team was formed by Justice Secretary Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa just the other day.
"As far as I and my office is concerned, wala pronouncement na ganoon. Initial stage pa lang ng investigation, so how can I come out with those pronouncements?" he said.
Eduarte said while summoning government officials for the NBI is a "possibility," they have not yet issued any subpoenas related to the alleged extortion scheme.
"That [issuance of subpoenas] is a strategy [of the NBI] when conducting fact-finding. But right now, wala pa. Malayo pa iyan," he said.
Eduarte, meanwhile, declined to say if there had already been additional complaints filed with the NBI, following the one filed by 34-year-old Josie Marie Paz Trias on Tuesday, who complained that her 51-year old mother and 75-year-old grandmother have been traumatized by the incident.
"We would rather keep things under wraps but rest assured we are working really hard and focusing on this task assigned to us," he said.
Eduarte urged people who have been victimized by the supposed scam to come out in the open and "cooperate" with the NBI in its investigation.
"We are calling on all victims to come forward. The NBI Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division is willing to help you, with all the assistance if needed. We will file charges. This is the best opportunity to come forward," he said.
Eduarte said victims can drop by Room 509 at the 5th floor of the NBI main office in Manila, or call 523-3265.
Eduarte said the NBI has already coordinated with the Department of Labor and EMployment to help in looking for victims of the "laglag bala" scheme. —KBK, GMA News

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