The National Bureau of Investigation is digging deeper into reports that retired Army Lt. Col. and former Drug Enforcement Agency official Edwin Layese, heads a gun for hire operation using security guards as hitmen.

NBI probing ex-PDEA exec’s gun for hire links

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By Nancy Carvajal

The National Bureau of Investigation is digging deeper into reports that retired Army Lt. Col. and former Drug Enforcement Agency official Edwin Layese, heads a gun for hire operation using security guards as hitmen.

“After he was dismissed from service Layesa was hired as overall security manager of a big Cebu company, where he could have meet and recruited his hitmen,” an NBI source familiar with the case told Politiko_Ph.

Layese headed the PDEA offices in Region 6, 10 and ARMM, but was dismissed from the post for supposedly lack of Civil Service eligibility requirements in 2012, despite being a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy.

Layese was positively identified by one his alleged hitman, Fausto Edgar Benigno Peralta, 55, as the “contractor’’ for the death of lawyer Joey Luis Wee in November in Cebu City, but the former military man was also pinned by the hitman in the ambushed of another lawyer James Gupana, also in Lapu-lapu City , in October also last year.

Gupana survived the attempt.

Peralta was arrested in Cabuyao, Laguna on December 10, 2020 by NBI agents who was able to trace him through the cellphone number he registered in a car rental prior to the killing.

In his sworn statement to the NBI- Peralta said that Wee’s wife was also part of the contract, but was supposedly retracted by Layese hours before the killing.

Peralta also told NBI investigators through a sworn affidavit that Layese, did not only paid them for the assasinations, but also “supervised, monitored and provided transport ‘’ for Peralta and his crew in the two incidents.

“Also noteworthy was Layese was able to obtain travel and quarantine protocol documents for the suspects in the middle of the pandemic,’’ the investigator said.

“Like in the movies, the gunmen were housed in a hotel and firearms were provided by local contacts, which showed the group is organized,’’ the investigator added.

Based on the NBI –Region 7 report to Director Officer in charge Eric Distor- Layese maintained five residences- in various areas of the province, but one of which remained unknown to the investigators except its located in the South of Cebu.

When Layese was arrested in the parking lot of a Cebu City hospital on January 12, the NBI found in his possession a .40 caliber revolver which registration had expired in 2004, sixteen years ago and under the name of another person from Jaro, Iloilo City.

Also named as part of the gun for hire group were; John Raymond Suarez and Randy Palparan.

NBI has filed murder charged against the four suspects before the Cebu City Regional Trial Court.

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POLITIKO / Across the Nation

POLITIKO / Latest News

Over 9,070 health workers in NCR receive Sinovac jab

By Prince Golez

So far, 9,077 individuals, mostly medical frontliners, have been vaccinated with China’s Sinovac coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine, Malacañang announced Thursday.

The country’s COVID vaccination drive started Monday, a day after the donated 600,000 CoronaVac doses arrived from China.

Here’s a breakdown of the vaccine distribution in several hospitals in Metro Manila as of March 3:

*UP-Philippine General Hospital: 1,184

*Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital: 221

*Lung Center of the Philippines: 148

*The Medical City: 4

*St. Luke’s Medical Center: 80

*Quezon City General Hospital: 82

*Pasay City Health Office: 300

*Ospital ng Muntinlupa: 86

*National Children’s Hospital: 185

*St. Luke’s Medical Center Global: 180

Meanwhile, Roque confirmed the arrival of 487,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine tonight at 7:30 p.m.

“Talagang darating na ang 487,200 doses ng AstraZeneca vaccines na kasama sa first round ng allocated doses mula sa COVAX Facility,” he said.

Maduro accused of selling Venezuela’s gold reserves

by Javier TOVAR

Venezuela’s opposition on Wednesday accused the government of President Nicolas Maduro of illegally selling the country’s international gold reserves to access liquidity and elude international sanctions.

Julio Borges, who represents opposition leader Juan Guaido, traveled to Washington to share the results of an investigation into the sale of 300 tons of gold since 2014 that allegedly involves Russia, Mali and the United Arab Emirates.

Borges said the UAE was the “nerve center of this great theft of Venezuela’s riches.”

He added that Maduro had been able to access “a bit more than one billion euros” in 2020 through the sales.

“Huge amounts of cash have left UAE for Venezuela to be exchanged for Venezuelan gold,” said Borges, who presented his findings to the US Treasury and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“This money is arriving in Venezuela without any control” leaving Maduro with access to it.

Venezuela’s government did not reply to an AFP request for a comment.

Venezuela had 85.7 tons of gold in the Central Bank, according to the last count in December 2020.

But the government has long struggled with a lack of cash, largely due to the crash in oil production exacerbated by US sanctions.

Gold reserves stood at 275 tons in 2014, according to official figures.

The government is also trying to recover 30 tons of gold held in the Bank of England to which it has been denied access as Britain recognizes Guaido as Venezuela’s leader, alongside around 50 countries.

Guaido proclaimed himself acting president in January 2019 in his role then as parliament speaker over claims Maduro was fraudulently re-elected in a vote the previous year.

Borges said he has “documents, photos or videos” to prove his claims.

He said the gold ingots were flown on a Russian plane to a refinery in Mali “to remove the traces that it’s Venezuelan gold.”

Most of the gold ends up in the UAE, although some was destined for Libya and Switzerland, said Borges, who claimed armed forces officials had provided the information.

Borges asked the US to investigate the matter further and apply sanctions to those allegedly involved, including Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami and Colombian businessman Alex Saab, currently held in Cape Verde and wanted by Washington for corruption linked to Maduro.

He said two French citizens working for the Emirati financial company Noor Capital were also involved in exchanging the gold for cash.

Agence France-Presse

LOOK: Duterte gets his PhilSys ID

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday received his Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) ID.

Photos provided by the Malacañang Presidential Photographers Division showed National Economic and Development Authority Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua handing over the ID to Duterte in Malacañang.

The PhilSys ID is the official national identity card for Filipino citizens worldwide and foreign permanent residents in the Philippines.

To recall, Duterte registered himself on the PhilSys late January.

In August 2018, the President signed PhilSys Act of 2018, which aims to use a single official identification card for any transaction.

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