BI intensifies drive vs foreign fugitives

September 17, 2010 10:11 am 

MANILA, Sept. 16 -– In a bid to flush out foreign fugitives hiding in the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday reorganized and increased the manpower of its Interpol unit.

In a memorandum, BI officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma placed the BI Interpol unit under the direct supervision of lawyer Faizal Hussin, the bureau’s intelligence division chief. The unit was previously under the Office of the Commissioner.

Ledesma also assigned six additional immigration intelligence agents to increase the unit’s manpower and improve its operational strength.

The BI chief said these would enhance the government’s campaign against foreign fugitives who used the Philippines as a haven to evade prosecution and imprisonment for crimes committed in their homelands.

Previously, the BI Interpol had agents from the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Department of Justice (DoJ), but they were recently recalled to their mother units.

Ledesma cited the need to expand the role of the BI Interpol unit as the primary unit tasked to carry out surveillance and manhunt operations against foreign fugitives. The unit is also responsible for coordinating with local and foreign law enforcement agencies, including the police attachés of the various foreign missions in Manila, in identifying and locating fugitives believed to be hiding or planning to enter the country.

BI Interpol unit chief Floro Balato Jr. is now being assisted by Jerome Gabionza who was named the unit’s deputy chief for operations.

Balato said BI Interpol operatives have arrested about 30 foreign fugitives since the unit was formed in June last year. It received commendations and citations from the US State Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for such accomplishments.

He said most of the arrested fugitives have been deported and are serving sentences in their respective countries. (PNA)

DCT/FMB

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