Thursday, March 31, 2005

FBI ‘blacklists’ NBI’s Wycoco

I'm posting this article here using Wayback Machine because it's not available anymore at the Tribune website (original source) and

From the Daily Tribune:

The Justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation under the Arroyo administration can no longer expect any kind of cooperation from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after a serious breach of security was committed by Philippine officials, led by NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco.

The NBI and, by extension, the Department of Justice (DoJ) have been placed on the blacklist of the FBI which has reportedly cut its ties with its Philippine counterpart, the NBI, in protest over what it described as a “deceptive” ploy by Wycoco during his visit to the United States last May, the Tribune learned from its sources yesterday.

The FBI’s reference to Wycoco’s “deceptive ploy” was the video footage showing the meeting held between Wycoco and Kyle Latimer, legal counsel of the US Attorney General’s Office, which agency has administrative supervision over the FBI.

The Justice department and the National Bureau of Investigation under the Arroyo administration can no longer expect any kind of cooperation from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after a serious breach of security was committed by Philippine officials, led by NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco.

Sources from the Philippine Embassy in Washington disclosed to the Tribune that the FBI leadership was outraged by the existence of the videotaped meeting and its subsequent public showing over Philippine television.

The meeting was apparently filmed in secret with a hidden camera by an aide of Wycoco, without the knowledge and consent of the American legal counsel and other American officials present during that meeting, the sources disclosed.

The video showed Latimer answering questions posed by Wycoco on the alleged bank accounts in the US of Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

The well-placed Tribune sources said Latimer and the FBI were not aware that one of Wycoco’s aides, who was later identified as Mike Magtanggol, was secretly filming the meeting which lasted some 45 minutes.

The digital video camera was reportedly hidden inside Magtanggol’s attaché case.

NBI sources told the Tribune that Magtanggol is not an organic NBI agent although he is seen almost every day hanging around Wycoco’s office at the NBI headquarters in Manila.

Records show that Magtanggol is the production head of the NBI Files, a weekly talk show hosted by Wycoco and television anchor Cristina Pecson, aired Tuesdays over a government-sequestered channel.

The secret filming by Magtanggol, obviously done with the knowledge and consent of Wycoco, was denounced by the FBI, the sources said.

“The FBI was so outraged because they (the officials) considered the act as a deceptive ploy by Director Wycoco and a violation of the trust and confidence being given by the US agency to the NBI chief,” the sources said.

The same sources said Wycoco’s act also undermined the security inside the FBI since it was a clear breach of security inside what is supposed to be a highly secured federal building.

Outraged by what was clearly a breach of security and confidence, the FBI official in the country reportedly barged into Wycoco’s office and gave him a piece of his mind.

The NBI sources confirmed that Jim Nixon, the FBI chief legal attaché to the Philippines, went to Wycoco’s office the day after the video was shown over ABS-CBN and GMA-7.

During the meeting, Nixon was described as “fuming mad” over the videotape which talked about Lacson’s bank accounts amounting to some $200,000, not the millions of dollars as alleged by military intelligence chief Col. Victor Corpus of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp), and Wycoco himself, who had claimed as early as eight months ago that his counterpart, the FBI, had furnished him a report on Lacson’s alleged bank accounts which Wycoco claimed held “huge” amounts in the millions, which he said would serve as the grounds to file money-laundering charges as well as plunder against Lacson.

“Jim Nixon was really angry during the meeting in Wycoco’s office. As a matter of fact, he was recalled to the US by his superiors to discuss the matter and the decision arrived at by the FBI officials was to sever their ties with the NBI as long as Wycoco sits as director,” a reliable source disclosed to the Tribune.

The source added the FBI is strict when it comes to confidential and secret matters, specially when these are passed on to its foreign counterparts, like the NBI.

“Once you are blacklisted by the FBI, there is no appeal. When the trust they (FBI) reposed on you has been betrayed, you’re blacklisted for life,” an NBI official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Nixon, the source said, is also head of the US Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATTF) in the Philippines.

The JATTF, which was formed after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, is composed of the FBI, US Port Police and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Earlier, DoJ Secretary Hernando Perez played up the probe conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee which focused on the alleged bank deposits amounting to close to $1 billion which was claimed by the Isafp chief to belong to Lacson

Perez claimed that he had obtained some damaging reports on Lacson’s alleged records but that he was just waiting for the official records from the US Department of Justice.

An official from the US Embassy told the Tribune that Perez was “lying through his teeth.”

The embassy official said the US DoJ was unlikely to even think of turning over any document to Perez, or Wycoco, for that matter, since the US government does not want its agencies’ confidential documents to be used by a foreign country, like the Philippines, for what was obviously a “political play.”

The same official expressed “horror” at the way Perez and Wycoco were using the name of the FBI and the US Justice department for “political purposes.”

It was learned that the video of the meeting, which was reportedly heavily spliced by the NBI to make it appear that the meeting was focused on the Lacson dollar accounts, was discovered to have been leaked by Wycoco to a select group of sympathetic reporters making up Wycoco’s media clique in Camp Crame .

They were given explicit orders not to drag the NBI in the videotape leakage.

This was the reason the broadsheet reporter who leaked the video to ABS-CBN and GMA-7 made it appear that the video came from Isafp’s Corpus.

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