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 â€œrumorâ€ 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 Governorâ€™s Mansion on Friday.
The bureau concluded the allegation as â€œrumorâ€ and the case investigation â€œclosed and terminated.â€
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 â€œpeopleâ€ who were â€œvocal about it.â€
Still, nothing could warrant the allegation to have basis and be factual, according to NBI officer.
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 Boholâ€™s rehabilitation from the 2013 monster earthquake and other major calamities.
Besides, it is not the foreign governmentâ€™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.
Masamayor, SP peace and order committee chairman, is a member of the PPOC and was at the latterâ€™s meeting when the NBI reported its â€œemptyâ€ 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.
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 Albaoâ€™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 â€œbaseless.â€
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 â€œno personal knowledgeâ€ about the allegation.
But the SP members observed Diputado having otherwise â€œsensationalizedâ€ 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 â€œimpartialâ€ 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 â€œtsismis.â€
Acting on Masamayorâ€™s manifestation in last Fridayâ€™s session regarding the NBIâ€™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 â€œfinalâ€ recommendation that may lead to an â€œunprecedented official actâ€ of the provinceâ€™s highest policy-making body, which is the provincial board.
The source said there may be â€œmore than what is expected when the SP returnsâ€ to session, â€œso stay tuned for more.â€Â (Ven rebo Arigo)