NBI: $81M a rumor; Capitol takes action

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NBI: $81M a rumor; Capitol takes action

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The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has found the alleged $81 million bank account imputed to the name of an unknown Bohol official to be just “rumor” and thus terminated its probe.

Meanwhile, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is slated to take action after the NBI declared such damaging statements that emanated from a local journalist and spread to the social media as well as published in a Cebu daily newspaper.

Lawyer Archie Albao, NBI-Bohol executive officer, said the complaint could not be verified and its source much less identified.

Albao reported the NBI negative finding during the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) monthly meeting at the Governor’s Mansion on Friday.

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The bureau concluded the allegation as “rumor” and the case investigation “closed and terminated.”

The NBI dipped its hand into the controversy after it received an electronic complaint sent thru e-email by an anonymous accuser.

Based on the complaint, the huge bank deposit in foreign currency was allegedly an aid from the American government thru its assistance arm, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

It further accused that the enormous amount was instead diverted by a Bohol official into his own pocket by depositing it to his account at a local bank.

But the NBI could not find any evidence, even from the unknown complainant who was asked, likewise thru e-mail, by the bureau to provide proofs but failed.

Albao told the PPOC that the NBI also investigated certain “people” who were “vocal about it.”

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Still, nothing could warrant the allegation to have basis and be factual, according to NBI officer.

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A US Embassy official in Manila earlier categorically stated that there has been no such aid and amount ever granted by the American government thru the USAID for Bohol’s rehabilitation from the 2013 monster earthquake and other major calamities.

Besides, it is not the foreign government’s policy to download financial aid to a local government unit as the USAID manages its own fund while granting technical assistance enhancing the capability of its recipient.

In the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) session on Friday, Board Member Ricky Masamayor raised the NBI finding to guide the board in its next official move.

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Masamayor, SP peace and order committee chairman, is a member of the PPOC and was at the latter’s meeting when the NBI reported its “empty” finding.

During its August 5 session, the provincial board asked in a resolution the NBI to conduct its own investigation and pinpoint the culpability of the source of the published falsehood.

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The wild accusation, which to some SP members is overly ridiculous and harming to the innocent, originated on the Bohol Times write-ups and DYTR broadcasts of newspaperman-radioman Salvador Diputado.

The NBI officer said at the PPOC meeting that they had likewise investigated those who have been peddling the story of the alleged immense deposit, which is equivalent to some P4.7 billion.

But Albao did not identify the people they had investigated or say that one of them could have been Diputado himself.

The NBI, based on Albao’s report to the PPOC, was only sure that all the information gathered during the investigation only led to the conclusion that the $81 million story is hearsay.

In the same August 5 session of the provincial board, the special Committee of the Whole reported its own finding that all allegations were “baseless.”

According to the committee, Diputado could himself not identify the priest whom he alleged as his information source, the bank where the huge money was supposedly deposited, and the top provincial official he linked to the account.

The committee had invited Diputado to its inquiry-hearing on July 20, during which the mediaman, who is a lawyer, told the board members he had “no personal knowledge” about the allegation.

But the SP members observed Diputado having otherwise “sensationalized” the issue in his repeated publications in both print and broadcast.

Thus, the provincial board asked not just the NBI but the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP) and Philippine Press Institute (PPI) to conduct their own separate “impartial” investigations.

The capitol legislature further asked the two media organizations to impose sanctions on who must have violated the journalist code of ethics in publishing the grave “tsismis.”

FINAL SP

ACT AWAITED

Acting on Masamayor’s manifestation in last Friday’s session regarding the NBI’s finding of the issue to be just rumor, the SP Committee on the Whole will again convene anytime this week.

The committee, a source said, is expected to make its “final” recommendation that may lead to an “unprecedented official act” of the province’s highest policy-making body, which is the provincial board.

The source said there may be “more than what is expected when the SP returns” to session, “so stay tuned for more.” (Ven rebo Arigo)

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