NBI to conduct probes on substandard infra projects
By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- Certified Public Accountant-Lawyer Dante Bonoan, currently the agent-in-charge (AIC) of the district office of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) here disclosed to Bicol Mail that among the priority cases that his office is probing are the irregularities committed in the implementation of various infrastructure projects. This, after the central office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) sought the assistance of NBI head office in Manila to look into the projects that were implemented in the provinces with traces of irregularities. “Aside from organized crimes like carnapping, robbery-holdup, illegal drugs and illegal gambling, the bureau will also take action on substandard infra projects, including those projects which were allegedly doubly funded,” he said. “We received reports that there were cases of overlapping of funds in those projects that were undertaken in the provinces during the past administrations which obtained funding from SARO (Special Allotment Release Order),” says Bonoan. Aside from anomalous projects, the NBI Bicol Regional Office and the Naga District Office will also investigate cases on cybercrime, human trafficking, and corruption in government, illegal gambling, illegal drugs, and violation of environmental laws. Installed as AIC in January, this year, at the Naga district office, 55-year-old Bonoan began to work in the bureau in 1996 successively as former head of NBI’s Intellectual Property Rights Division, International Airport Division and Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD). Before his Naga stint, Bonoan served as AIC in Tarlac and Dagupan. Bonoan believes in the importance of the community’s role in law enforcement, saying that teamwork does not only mean working healthily along with his colleagues in the bureau but also with other law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) which share the same thrusts with the NBI. “We [in the bureau] have to reach out to the people in the community which include the mayor, the punong barangay, community officials and the ordinary persons in the street so that we can establish good working relationship with them,” he said. The NBI agent said that he shared the same sentiments with Mayor John Bongat when the local chief executive told him in a meeting on illegal drugs that one of the factors in the achievement of good law enforcement is teamwork. Bongat and Bonoan agreed to keep a strong partnership in the campaign against illegal drugs and other crimes. He said with the community’s help, the bureau was able to solve substantial number of celebrated crimes, especially on cases of human trafficking in the country. The significant results of the Philippine government in demonstrating serious and sustained efforts by convicting and punishing more traffickers, identifying more victims through proactive screening procedures, and expanding its efforts to prevent trafficking of Filipino migrant workers have obtained recognition from the US State Department. “Because of that, the country fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, which allow us to be elevated from Tier 2 (watch list) to Tier 1,” Bonoan said. In the international tier placements, countries categorized under Tier 1 are those whose governments fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards being imposed by the United States. Tier 2 are countries whose governments do not fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards and: a) The absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing; b) There is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year; or c) The determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional future steps over the next year. Countries categorized under Tier 3 are those whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. Bonoan said because of the Philippine government’s Tier 1 standing for implementing the standards of the US State Department in the campaign against human trafficking, we continuously receive financial grants every year in the form of military aid.