NBI chief defends men: ‘Accuser is a convict’ | Inquirer News
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NBI chief defends men: ‘Accuser is a convict’

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 12:50 AM June 13, 2015

National Bureau of Investigation Director Virgilio Mendez on Friday came to the defense of his agents who are under investigation by the Department of Justice for allegedly helping high-profile convicts smuggle cell phones into their NBI detention quarters.

“We must remember that the one accusing [my men] is a convicted prisoner, who is locked up in an NBI cell used by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor),” Mendez said in an interview on Radyo Inquirer. ‘’You don’t just believe something said by a prisoner.’’

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The NBI chief was referring to the media statements made on Thursday by his boss, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who said “an informant” had tagged three to four NBI agents to be behind the smuggling.

The informant, she said, was one of the 19 convicts transferred to NBI custody from New Bilibid Prison in December last year following NBI raids on the national penitentiary. He has since been moved to a safe house under the Witness Protection Program, she added.

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She withheld the names of the NBI agents being investigated, but cited reports reaching her office that some of the inmates, mostly convicted drug lords, had paid as much as P1.5 million per smuggled phone.

Mendez assailed the informant’s claim that the NBI agents in charge of searching the Bilibid inmates’ quarters for contraband were leaving cell phones behind after the inspection.

“That’s very unfair. Before we enter and after we leave the cells, BuCor guards conduct body searches. If there was something wrong before, it should’ve been reported earlier,’’ he said.

He also noted that the allegations against his men surfaced after “we have recovered phones from the inmates,” referring to the gadgets found hidden in the food and other household items being delivered to the convicts earlier this week.

Mendez also pointed out that while the detention facility was within the NBI compound, the inmates were being guarded by BuCor personnel.

He also belied news reports (not in the Inquirer) that the NBI agents cited by De Lima had already been relieved of their duty.

“It was very disturbing when a lot of people were asking me if someone had been relieved. I checked and went as far as calling Secretary De Lima to ask her [about it], and she told me that she was misquoted and that she did not have anyone removed.”

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TAGS: Bureau of Corrections, Department of Justice, Leila de Lima, National Bureau of Investigation, NBI, New Bilibid Prison, Smuggling, Virgilio Mendez
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