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NBI arrests master forger.

By Jeffrey Damicog

A convicted notorious master forger who has been engaged in his craft for decades has been arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

NBI spokesman Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin identified the arrested suspect as Manuel Bala who is in his 60s.

Lavin described Bala as well-known forger known as the "golden hand" and has already served time in prison after being convicted in 2000 for falsification of public documents.

Bala was arrested in Paco, Manila on Oct. 5 by operatives of the NBI's Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD).

Following his arrest, Bala was charged with falsification by private individual under Article 172 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.

Lavin said the NBI operation stemmed from the request made by the United States Embassy, particularly, from attache Isaiah Roland II of the Overseas Criminal Investigation (OCI) of the US State Department.

The Embassy said it confronted a couple, identified as Kevin Keith Fajardo and Jarra Rowella, for having tried applying for US visas using fraudulent documents.

Lavin said the OCI learned that the couple used fraudulently obtained passports since they are not married based on the Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Also, Lavin said the Embassy also verified with the Department of Trade and Industry that the business allegedly owned by Fajardo is nonexistent.

"According to Jarra and Kevin, the falsified documents were provided by subject Manuel Bala who told them that it is easier for a married couple to get an approval for visa application, thus he paired the two," the NBI said in a statement.

The couple also revealed to the NBI they were promised by Bala that he will hand over to them original documents at a hotel in Paco, Manila.

With this information, the NBI hatched an operation which led to the arrest of Bala.


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Title Annotation:Metro
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Oct 9, 2018
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