Press Release
January 25, 2016

Senators give green light to proposed NBI Modernization Act

The Senate today passed on third and final reading a bill which seeks to modernize the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) by improving the capability training of its agents, adjusting the position classification, salaries and benefits of the NBI personnel and upgrading its equipment and laboratories to address the demands of advanced investigative and detective work.

Senate Bill No. 2950, authored and sponsored by Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, was approved with 16 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention. The bill was co-authored by Senators Chiz Escudero, Cynthia Villar, and Loren Legarda.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that the measure will boost government efforts to curb the country's worsening crime rates, noting that the new bill will clarify overlapping jurisdictions between the NBI and other law enforcement agencies in handling cases, "allowing all these agencies to focus their efforts and expedite the pursuit of justice on criminal cases under their respective mandates." Pimentel said that the NBI "has grown into a more multi- faceted organization and has assumed greater responsibilities in recent times. The unfortunate fact is, the growing sophistication of criminal activities has outpaced the capacity of our law enforcement officials to deal with, and to combat modern crimes."

Under the measure, the NBI is given the power to undertake the investigation of specialized and high-level crimes, as well as those crimes directed by the President or the Secretary of Justice, when public interest requires.

"The NBI has been at the forefront in the collective campaign against crime. In fact, many of our countrymen, and rightly so, have come to depend and rely on the NBI for immediate redress as the NBI has built for itself a reputation for quick, responsive, and accurate action," Pimentel said.

"We have to equip our law enforcement bodies with the necessary tools and infra- structure to adapt and to succeed in our modern and more sophisticated era," Pimentel added.

The proposed bill also authorizes the NBI to implement a modernization program which includes the professionalization of the Bureau, the acquisition of state-of-the-art investigative and intelligence equipment and the establishment of forensic and scientific laboratories. The program shall include provisions for the training of its personnel on how to use and manage the modern facilities.

The bill also defines and categorizes the priority cases that should principally be referred to the NBI. These include, among others, human trafficking cases, extra-judicial killings, and violations of Republic Act No. 10175, otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Under the proposed bill, the NBI shall also establish a regional office in all regions nationwide to be headed by a regional director and district offices in every province to be headed by a head agent. Field offices may also be established and maintained by the director as the need arises.

The proposed bill also calls for the employment of additional NBI personnel and the upgrading of their positions, together with the number of administrative support personnel, to effectively carry out their functions.

"The men and women of the NBI are undoubtedly some of the brightest and most courageous law enforcement personnel in the service," Pimentel said.

"As the leading law enforcement agency tasked to conduct criminal investigations, the NBI takes a lead role in deterring criminal activities, gathering evidence, and ultimately holding criminal offenders accountable," he added.

Pimentel said the proposed bill would also increase the NBI personnel's benefits to include health care services through a health maintenance organization, accident insurance, longevity pay, and hazard pay. (Yvonne Almirañez)

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