Phl has become a haven for fugitives – risk consultancy

Published by rudy Date posted on May 26, 2011

MANILA, Philippines –  The Philippines has become a haven for fugitives due to the absence of a centralized biometric database of wanted criminals and the proliferation of fake documents, a multinational risk consultancy said.

In a report issued to its clients dated May 23, the Pacific Strategies & Assessments (PSA) said some of the country’s most wanted fugitives may be moving about freely while authorities remain clueless as to their whereabouts.

“Due to the weakness of law enforcement in effectively tracking down and arresting wanted fugitives, the Philippines has become a safe haven and a transit point for criminals evading capture,” PSA said.

“While authorities remain clueless as to the whereabouts of these criminals, some of the country’s most wanted likely are moving freely and openly in public – and maybe even traveling abroad,” it added.

PSA, whose clients include multinational corporations, financial institutions and embassies, said a number of the country’s most wanted criminals have been at-large for more than two decades.

PSA noted the absence of a centralized biometric database of wanted criminals, which enables fugitives to evade arrest.

It also noted that records of wanted criminals and fugitives in the Philippines remain mostly filed in huge dusty binders and consist primarily of pencil-drawn sketches, dated photographs and old- fashioned fingerprints.

“These records generally are useless,” PSA, which has offices in Manila, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Bangkok, Milwaukee and Sydney, said.

PSA said records of criminals are typically kept only at the police precinct that has primary jurisdiction over a crime scene.

In the meantime, individuals are required to obtain police clearance only from the precinct that has jurisdiction over their current residence.

“Thus, if a person is a wanted criminal in one location, he still can easily obtain a police clearance from another precinct,” PSA said, adding that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has a relatively more complete database of criminals and fugitives nationwide.

However, problems arise when fugitives are using aliases, since both the NBI and the police rely primarily on personal information like names, birth dates and addresses when checking their records.

“By simply using an alias or intentionally misspelling a name or changing biographical data, a criminal or fugitive can obtain a police or an NBI clearance,” PSA said.

It noted that maintaining an electronic biometric database has become standard practice for most countries to identify known and suspected criminals.

PSA cited the case of Imam Arabani Jakiran, an Abu Sayyaf member nabbed in Taguig City this month.

Jakiran was tagged in two kidnapping and terror attacks in Basilan in 2001 but managed to work for a security agency for several years.

PSA said Jakiran was able to provide his employer clearances issued by the NBI, the local police precinct in Quezon City, the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, and the justice department via the city prosecutor.

Jakiran reportedly applied for these clearances under the name Abdurahim Gustaham Arabani after fleeing Mindanao and moving to Quezon City.

PSA also noted the presence of various syndicates producing fake public documents for identification. It claimed that the practice of producing fake public documents is very rampant.

Among the documents being counterfeited are military, police and taxi driver identification cards, NBI clearances, police office clearances, car registration and baptismal certificates, business permits, marriage contracts and diplomas.

“Indeed, the more creative and sophisticated international criminals simply opt to purchase completely new identities in the Philippines,” PSA said. –Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star)

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