NBI arrests ‘notorious forger’ over fake US visa application

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has arrested a previously convicted master forger for allegedly falsifying documents once again.

Dubbed as the “golden hand,” Manuel Bala has already served time in prison after being convicted in 2000 for violating Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code.

Bala was arrested by operatives of the NBI’s Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD) in an entrapment operation in Paco, Manila on October 5.

NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin at a press conference said, “The notorious and famous Nonoy Bala is back in the arms of the law.”

The arrest was executed after the NBI was alerted by the United States Embassy in Manila over a falsified document submitted to them by two Filipinos applying for a U.S. tourist visa.

Kevin Keith Fajardo and Jarra Rowella allegedly posed as a married couple after Bala convinced the two that the guise will expedite the process of their application. He provided them the fake documents.

“When this was checked by the U.S. Embassy, it turned out that there was no marriage on record with the Philippine Statistic Office,” Lavin said.

Aside from the nonexistent records at the PASO, Lavin also verified that Fajardo has no records in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for a business he supposedly owned.

The visa applicants admitted they were promised by Bala that he will hand over to them original documents at a hotel in Paco, Manila — which is how the NBI hatched the operation leading to Bala’s arrest.

According to the NBI, Bala has already undergone inquest proceedings for violation of Articles 171 and 172 — falsification by public officer and by private individual, respectively. 

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