Ever since the deployment of a battalion of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force to man the high security compound of the NBP, drug lords operating inside have gone out of business. The elite troops – who took a crash course on prison management before taking on their new assignment – are conducting “cleaning up” operations in critical areas inside the NBP compound following the seizure of half a million pesos in cash, telephones, smart gadgets, signal boosters, cigarettes, weapons and other prohibited items when PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa conducted a surprise inspection early last week.
Some of these drug lords even have the audacity to complain about the “very strict” SAF troops – so much so that the chaplain was almost barred entry because he forgot his ID – but everyone definitely approves of these strict measures. The high-security prison compound has become a lucrative business center where convicted drug lords run their illegal drugs and moneymaking operations – mainly because these “VIP” inmates have the money to pay off prison guards and Bilibid officials.
It’s an open secret that certain areas of the prison facility have been turned into luxury dens-cum-offices complete with air con, computers, money counters and weapons arsenal in several instances. SAF intelligence certainly know how to conduct a thorough sweep, because some cellphones hidden under a hollow spot on the floor and covered by slippers were confiscated. Past administrations were simply too naive and out-of-touch with reality. The fact of the matter is, the current president has the street smarts and knew exactly what was going on inside the prison walls. The president has even warned against those who will attempt to “BS” him or try to pull the wool over his eyes, telling them to just “stop or else!”
General Dela Rosa – whom we are inviting to be the Manila Overseas Press Club’s PNP forum speaker this year – said he deployed the SAF personnel – selected from different assignments all over the country – because they are incorruptible, and expectations are high that the strict inspection procedures by the troops for all visitors will soon put an end to the lucrative drug trade happening inside the NBP compound with the interception of “contraband” going in and out of prison.
Ongpin sees foul play by SEC
Business tycoon Roberto “Bobby” Ongpin has decried what he described as continued harassment from the Securities and Exchange Commission which ordered that the businessman be barred from sitting on the board of any publicly-listed firms and fined him P174 million to boot for alleged insider trading in relation to the purchase of Philex Mining shares in 2009. It can be recalled that the Sandiganbayan has already dismissed the case filed against Ongpin in relation to the purchase of the said shares for lack of probable cause.
The SEC acknowledged that the business tycoon has denied having engaged in any insider trading information but pointed out that he did not deny having possessed material information with regard to the purchase of a large number of Philex shares which were sold days later to MVP at negotiated prices.
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Ongpin however believes he is being targeted by “remnants” of the previous administration – a suspicion that he voiced in a letter to SEC chair Tess Herbosa in October last year, pointing to reports that the SEC has been instructed to put companies affiliated with Ongpin “under a microscope.”
Bobby Ongpin then outlined several incidents that seemed to indicate that he was being singled out, such as the imposition of “cruel and unusual punishment” on Alphaland directors who were also fined with P1 million individually relative to the dispute with Alphaland Holdings Singapore which was settled amicably; the subsequent delisting of Alphaland which he described as irregular; the filing of insider trading charges against him but not the other party to the transaction; and the delay in the release of incorporation papers for the Aegle Wellness Center, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphaland Corporation.
Bangladesh hopeful of recovering stolen $81 million
Ambassador John Gomes of Bangladesh has called on the Senate to resume its probe on the $81 million stolen by cyber criminals from the Bangladesh Central Bank’s account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. In a roundtable discussion hosted by the Bangladeshi ambassador at the AIM, Gomes said he is optimistic that some $17 million of the stolen funds will be returned to his country soon and that the whole amount will be recovered eventually, although he admits this may take a while.
The cyber heist underscores the vulnerability of banks all over the world to cyber attacks specially if they do not have even basic security features like firewalls or if their security systems are out of date. According to a major international software security group, Bangladesh is among the top 20 most cyber attacked countries.
Some $15 million has been returned by casino junket operator Kim Wong but this has been placed under a civil forfeiture case by the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
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