Devanadera orders NBI official to explain alleged bribe money for Catholic bishop

September 16, 2009 12:42 pm 

MANILA, Sept. 16 — Acting Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary and concurrent Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera on Wednesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to require its Region 2 (Cagayan Valley Region) official to explain the reported bribe money for a Catholic bishop.

The alleged bribe money was intended to silence the prelate and to go easy on the operation of a Spanish-gambling company.

In a memorandum, Devanadera directed NBI Director Nestor Mantaring to immediately demand an explanation from NBI Region 2 Director Constantino Joson as to why he (Joson) should not be administratively dealt with for allegedly handcarrying an undetermined amount of money to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya for Bishop Ramon Villena.

Joson was reported to be one of two individuals who allegedly tried to bribe Villena in exchange for his silence on the operation of Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation (MVGC).

Villena earlier accused gambling czar Charlie "Atong" Ang of trying to "buy him off".

However, Ang vehemently denied such accusation.

Villena claimed that he returned the envelope containing the money from Meridien through Joson.

But, the NBI official denied that he enticed the bishop, citing that, the Meridien has "legal papers and that there was nothing which its people (Meridien) wanted from the bishop."

According to Joson, the prelate merely returned the money intended as Church donation through the NBI official as he (Villena) did not know who the donor was.

Villena, on the other hand, claimed that these supposed "legal documents" only authorized Meridien to operate an online virtual gaming and not a jueteng-like transactions.

It was gathered that MGVC is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and has a franchise from the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA). (PNA)

DCT/PTR

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