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Challenging year for NBI

2016 was a notable year for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which now faces the new year with a desk-full of pending cases, mostly related to President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

The “exclamation point” of the bureau’s year was the transfer of alleged drug lord Roland “Kerwin” Espinosa to NBI custody following a court order from the Baybay, Leyte Regional Trial Court.

Also under the NBI’s custody now is retired policeman and the alleged middleman of gaming tycoon Jack Lam, Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero, who is linked to the P50-million extortion mess with two Bureau of Immigration officials.

In July, alleged drug lord and Cebu-based entrepreneur Peter Lim surfaced at the NBI headquarters to prove that he was not the Peter Lim being linked to the illegal drug trade. His claims were later proven wrong. He is now on the run.

A case that is viewed as “open-ended” is the controversial summer concert in Pasay City last May where five persons died after allegedly ingesting illegal drugs during the event. Now seven months later, not a single case was filed against the organizers or alleged drug peddlers in that tragic concert.

“Parang tsini-checkmate na kami. Lahat ng galaw namin, alam na nila. They (organizers and companies involved) already know what we are doing),” an NBI agent, who requested anonymity, told the Manila Bulletin.

What would make the case difficult is that the purported synthetic drugs are not listed as illegal drugs under RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The NBI has also investigated several cases of suspicious deaths, with Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa’s death the latest on the list.

NBI Region 8 was tapped to probe the death of Espinosa, who was killed when he allegedly shot it out with the police while serving a search warrant inside his cell in Baybay Sub Provincial Jail early November.

Early December, the NBI released its findings, saying that Espinosa was a victim of rubout.

As a result, the bureau has recommended the filing of murder charges against 24 police officers involved in the “rubout.”

During the year, several families sought the NBI’s help to investigate the questionable circumstances of the deaths of their kin. The NBI’s Death Investigation Division (DID) has looked into the death of motorcycle rider, John Dela Riarte, who was killed inside the mobile car of the Highway Patrol Group.

The two HPG officials involved in the killing were charged with murder filed by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO). A month after the incident, one of the officers facing raps, PO3 Jeremiah De Villa, who also claimed shooting Dela Riarte, allegedly committed suicide by jumping off a building. The case has been considered close.