Local NBI: no hand in workers’ arrest

ENRO dumpsite personnel released from detention, testify about their trauma during their illegal arrests by NBI Manila agents, as they speak before the City Council special session.

Those NBI AGENTS who arrested without warrant nine poor innocent “basoreros” of the ENRO at the Candau-ay Dumpsite last October 4 acted on their own agenda as law enforcers representing the NBI’s Environmental Crime Division headed by one Atty Czar Erric Nuqui even as they merely sent an email to their local counterpart without personally coordinating with them.

City Mayor Felipe Remollo strongly criticized such breach of protocol and described the NBI Manila operators as one who abused their authority with brute force and bullying. “Dumagueteños are gentle people but we are no pushovers, and will see to it that justice is done once and for all,” the Mayor said.

WHO GAVE THE ORDER?

It was rare display of some apparent urgency. Who ordered and funded the Manila NBI agents to fly in style to Dumaguete, stay in a tourist hotel at the Boulevard, and conduct the blitzkrieg arrest at the dumpsite as if some big time drug lord were king pursued?

This was the question asked by Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova who presided over an emergency special session, together with majority of the city council, for the purpose of clarifying the circumstances why the surprise arrests of poor innocent Dumaguete workers at the ENRO or the Environment city office.

Those nine workers arrested were charged with violation of RA 9003 Article VI Section 37 and violation of RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines as amended by RA 10654 Section 107 on Aquatic Pollution. (What specifically are the charges?)

Charged before the city prosecutors office are Ramonito Larena, Anjoe Naguit, Ruel Caro, Maria Merlinda Sarne, Renato Raul Ozoa, Felix Caro Jr., Junmar Futalan Andres, Jesus Lazaga, Anthon Van Vendiola and Arnold Loyola. The city legal office is preparing for their answers.

The team leader one Atty Eric Nuqui did not include himself as among the complainants against those arrested who later were released. Instead, the complainants listed were seven other agents of the NBI in Manila, namely, Agent Rex Randolf Pioy, Agent Habeas Corpuz, Agent Marvin Matamis, SI Roy Rufino Zunega, SI Claro Ramos, SI Edsel Pelete and SI Rizaldy RiverA, yet all together with their head Atty Czar Eric Nuqui, came from the environmental crime division of NBI Manila. The case is docketed as NPS DOCKET NO. VII-11-INV-19, filed October 4, 2019 at 9:15 in the morning.

City hall intelligence officers are now verifying the authenticity of the names of the NBI complainants to match with their official roster of agents.

On the side of the local NBI here in Dumaguete, The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) district office in Dumaguete told the committee on peace and order and public safety of the city council that it has nothing to do with the operation conducted by NBI agents from Manila in the afternoon of October 3, 2019 which resulted to the arrest of nine employees of the city government and one from a private university for allegedly dumping wastes on the open dumpsite at Candau-ay.

LOCAL NBI NO PART

In fairness, NBI Special Investigation III Ma. Contessa Lastimoso disclosed the Environmental Crime Division of the NBI in Manila headed by Atty. Czar Eric Nuqui sent an email on that day informing her office that they will conduct a surveillance and possible counter action operation in Negros Oriental without specifics as to the place, no mention of what the operation is all about, time, and the subject. She said the NBI and other law enforcement agencies strictly observe a system of compartmentalization or a “need to know basis only” and that they can operate anywhere in the country provided they have the permission of the office of the deputy director for regional operations service.

SI or Special Investigator Lastimoso disclosed there was nothing irregular with regards to the handling of the case because the local NBI can also do that. But, at all times, it would be best to consult with the local operatives, in this case NBI Dumaguete because they know better the situation here than their counterpart in Manila.

However, Lastimoso understands the predicament. It would have been best if they communicated with the regional office of the DENR to be updated on recent developments of the garbage dumpsite and that a transition period is in effect after approval of the safe closure and rehabilitation plan.

She stressed as she told local reporters, that the local NBI has no participation as to the surveillance, briefing and the case build up. Three of their agents were at the dumpsite area when the operation was almost done because the rest of the officers were attending a conference on extrajudicial killings in Cebu that day.

According to SI Lastimoso, the local NBI have not operated on the existence of the open dumpsite because they are aware of the gravity of the problem and that a transition measure is already being undertaken by the City Government to include the acquisition of a lot where a sanitary landfill will be constructed.

On the same day, Atty Eric Nuqui, head of the environmental crime division in Manila, appeared before the local police station to record their presence and conduct of a surveillance operation and possible counter action but Lastimoso is not aware if their NBI counterpart in Manila have coordinated with the local DENR.

But the fact that the NBI Manila team got a call from Manila ordering the release of the ENRO WORKERS was indication enough that the visiting agents might have gone over board and crossed the line of protocol by neither coordinating with the City Police nor the City Mayor who, by command responsibility, is in charge of all environment concerns of the city.

The local NBI’s participation came in only after the garbage collectors and drivers were arrested because they were brought to the NBI office for processing.

Councilor Michael Bandal and the rest of the city council members condemned the actions of the NBI agents from Manila and deemed it proper for the city to file counter charges. He said “we are not the type of an LGU that the NBI Manila can just bully and get away with it. Use of unreasonable force against ordinary garbage collectors should also be investigated, and justice be done, he pointed out. (With reports by Choy Gallarde)