NBI files raps vs its legal assistance chief for 'accepting' bribes from members of 'pastillas' modus

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) — A division head of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is facing complaints for allegedly accepting bribes from individuals tagged in the ‘pastillas’ scheme.

The NBI’s Special Action Unit on Wednesday filed formal complaints against Atty. Joshua Capiral, head of legal assistance division, and his brother Christopher John Capiral, an immigration officer, for extortion and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Capiral brothers are also accused of violating the executive order for government personnel with access to classified matters as well as the code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials.

Atty. Janet Francisco, chief of the NBI’s anti-human trafficking division, earlier said her colleague, Joshua Capiral, was arrested in an entrapment operation on Monday night.

“Vinerify ko po ang information na iyan sa isang opisyal ng legal service namin at kinonfirm po na na-entrap po si Atty. Joshua Capiral,” said Atty. Janet Francisco, chief of the NBI’s anti-human trafficking division during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

[Translation: I verified this report from an official of our legal service, who confirmed that he was arrested in an entrapment operation.]

The kickback was allegedly in exchange for not including some individuals in the list of names that will be charged by the NBI.

Francisco said based on the initial information she received, Capiral has a brother who is working at the BI.

She added that the NBI will file a complaint against Capiral before the Department of Justice today.

CNN Philippines is still awaiting NBI's reply about the specific complaints that will be filed and who among those linked to the pastillas scheme made the bribe offer to Capiral.

Nineteen immigration personnel are facing graft complaints for their involvement in the scheme, the NBI said early this month.

In February, Senator Risa Hontiveros exposed the pastillas scheme. The operation is called "pastillas" because money would be hidden in rolled bond paper like the wrapping for the milk candy. But Hontiveros said this has been upgraded to pay envelopes for the release of kickbacks.

A whistleblower then bared a sweeter deal between immigration officers and Chinese nationals, including blacklisted individuals, which ranged from P50,000 to P200,000. If they are high-profile individuals, the bribe could be in the millions of pesos, according to Allison Chiong, who worked at the BI.

Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II served as the "protector" of the modus and has been receiving his share from the grease money even after leaving office, columnist Ramon Tulfo earlier said. Aguirre flatly denied the allegations. The BI is under the DOJ.