The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday said it has recalled all confidential agents as directed by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.
This was disclosed by NBI director Medardo De Lemos during a House Justice committee hearing that inquired about the bureau’s accomplishments and administrative agenda.
During the hearing, De Lemos also batted for more powers for the bureau under the NBI Modernization Law of 2016.
“When the new Secretary of Justice (Remulla) assumed office, he directed us to recall all confidential agents. So as of the moment, technically and legally, we have no confidential agents,” De Lemos said.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, Jr. remarked that confidential agents were not part of the NBI’s organic structure.
Barzaga expressed concern that there are individuals who could be introducing themselves as NBI confidential agents to local officials and law enforcement operatives, using identification cards issued by the agency.
De Lemos assured Barzaga that the NBI has taken steps to address this concern.
“We have directed all the confidential agents who were issued Ids before to surrender the same to the NBI,” he said.
Numerous former or alleged confidential agents have been implicated in crimes, among them, Jerry Omlang, a former NBI volunteer who admitted involvement in the killing of South Korean Jee Ick-joo in 2017.
This prompted then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to direct the NBI to conduct an inventory of its confidential agents.
In 2012, then-Justice Secretary Leila de Lima also ordered the NBI to revoke and recall IDs, appointments and badges issued to confidential agents, consultants and civilian security volunteers.
“During my watch, I have never issued a confidential ID to anyone,” De Lemos told the House panel.
Initially designated as NBI officer-in-charge in July, De Lemos was appointed NBI director in August.
He is the agency’s most senior officer, having served for 37 years.
“On our legislative agenda, we would like to propose amendments to our new charter. First, in the area of jurisdiction, mindful of the enumerated criminal violations under the different laws in the country, we would like to increase the same considering that some of these jurisdictions have been removed from the NBI,” De Lemos told the lawmakers.
He said the NBI, apart from the Office of the President and the DOJ, should be authorized to conduct a direct investigation on issues that are of public interest.
He also proposed that only the NBI director and the two deputy directors should be appointed by the President, while other personnel should be appointed by the Justice Secretary and the NBI director.
He likewise asked Congress to increase the NBI’s clearance fund from P150 million to P300 million to boost the agency’s modernization efforts.
De Lemos said the NBI will submit a letter detailing his proposals to the committe.