Briones: Hoping against hope

Publio Briones III

I’M not sure if the three Romanian nationals who were arrested last Friday have already been charged. Either way, they will still be able to post bail.

Alexandru Mitrache, Costel Ion and Razvan Aurelian Stancu have been tagged as the ones responsible for installing skimming devices in automated teller machines (ATMs) of the LandBank of the Philippines.

They will face a complaint for violating Republic Act 8484, or the use of an access device for fraudulent acts. They will also be charged with estafa “if proven that they used the money to purchase something in the department store,” said retired judge Meinrado Parades, who lost P100,000 to a skimming incident.

Majority, if not all, of the victims were or are government employees. Some of them belong to law enforcement agencies. Hey, maybe the immigration office even.

Either way, I don’t think the three Romanians will be doing a South Korean disappearing act.

Like what happened to the seven “sex tourists” from South Korea, who were arrested in Mactan earlier this month. The ones who were allowed to leave the country quietly even though trafficking charges had been filed against them.

So it’s imperative that the court issue a hold-departure order against Mitrache, Ion and Stancu as soon as the cases against them are filed. The immigration office should also not release their passports. It cannot feign ignorance on this matter.

In fact, the government should do whatever it must to ensure that the three don’t abscond.

Paredes has already expressed his willingness to help the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 in the filing of the charges.

The NBI 7 assured the victims that it would build a “strong” case against the three.

Oh I don’t doubt it. But here’s what’s worrying me and Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, who is deputy mayor for police matters.

Mitrache, Ion and Stancu can afford to post whatever bail the court will recommend because they’re awash in cash.

They proved that when, while in NBI 7 custody, they reportedly convinced one of the personnel at the headquarters to go to Starbucks and purchase P7,000 worth of items that were later brought to their cell. For their breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. Because, according to that personnel, the three “do not eat scrambled eggs.”

Uhuh.

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I heard the filing of charges against the three Romanian nationals was delayed because victims were coming out in droves to file their affidavits.

I hope, just this once, the justice system will work in the victims’ favor. Because the sad reality is, Mitrache, Ion and Stancu have money. And money, to quote Cyndi Lauper, changes everything.king.