By Vann Marlo M. Villegas

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said he will issue a directive to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate 18 Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents allegedly involved in an extortion try.

This stemmed from Immigration Commissioner Jaime H. Morente’s recommendation to Mr. Guevarra for the preventive suspension of the 18 agents allegedly involved in an extortion attempt on 15 Koreans in Angeles, Pampanga, on March 6.

The BI said in a statement on April 6 that the commissioner also requested the NBI to conduct its own probe.

“The NBI can initiate its criminal investigation motu proprio (upon motion). But I will formally issue a department order giving the directive. As to the administrative/disciplinary side, the DoJ (Department of Justice) will immediately assume jurisdiction,” Mr. Guevarra said in a text message.

“I will go over the letter request of the BI Commissioner on Monday and will act on it promptly,” he added.

According to a report by GMA News on March 29, the BI agents threatened the Koreans with detention, which they did to the amount of P9 million before their release.

In its statement, the BI said its recommendation for the suspension of its personnel was in line with an order by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, while the matter was being investigated.

The BI said the Koreans filed a complaint against the BI agents before the Office of the President and the Department of Justice.

Mr. Morente said his agency is “serious in sweeping its ranks” to remove corrupt and erring personnel. “The President’s directive is clear, we will weed out corruption in the BI. No one will be spared,” he said.