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Setting the record straight; Bander was wanted in the Philippines for ‘Acts of Lasciviousness’

A copy of People's Tonight disputes a claim by another newspaper regarding the alleged molestation incident by Atty. Joel Bander against a Filipina woman he claimed to be fictitious.

Above is the criminal information filed by the Manila Prosecutor's Office on October 17, 2006 against Atty. Joel Bander on behalf of a Filipina who claimed that she was molested by Bander. The case "People of the Philippines versus Joel Bander" accused the lawyer of "Acts of Lasciviousness" based on an alleged incident whereby the woman, who said she came to Bander to seek his help in acquiring a U.S. visa, was reportedly abused by Bander back in July 2006.

THE PROBLEM with pseudo investigative reporters is that they never verify any claims, especially if these are provided by their own boss. You may have recently seen a new tabloid in the market that “reported” on events that another newspaper had published, which happened to be us, Balita.

To set the record straight, we are providing here a copy of a People’s Tonight story, (“The High Price of US Visa”) dated July 22, 2006. In the story, you can see that Allan Bergonia wrote that the complaint was filed before the “Manila Prosecutor’s Office.” The complaint was filed, according to the story, “yesterday” or July 21, 2006.

Unlike what the other paper had printed, Bergonia didn’t write any other city or place other than Manila. Maybe the pseudo investigative journalists have a different People’s Tonight copy because they had stated that the complaint was filed in a fiscal’s office that “does not exist.” Also, Bergonia’s story didn’t say any word about “illegal recruitment charges” as published by the other paper.

But the next document that Balita possesses and that we are providing to you here tells a story that such person that the other paper said was “fictitious” may be a real person when she filed the complaint.

How, you may ask?

1. As stated, the case was filed at Branch 27 of the Metropolitan Regional Trial Court, City of Manila as so stamped. The case is docketed as Criminal Case # 433318 and filed on Oct. 17, 2006.

2. The case says “People of the Philippines” versus “Joel Bander” with the address Imperial Bayfront Tower, 1624 A. Mabini St., Ermita, Manila. As stated, Joel Bander, who Bergonia wrote was “An alleged trader who assists applicants in securing United States visas” is the accused.

3. 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Rector E. Macapagal, Chief of the Eight Division, so stated that the “undersigned Assistant City Prosecutor, upon sworn complaint filed by the offended party CRISTINA SAN JOSE Y ALER…hereby accuses JOEL BANDER, of the crime of ACTS OF LASCIVIOUSNESS…” In case you missed it, UPON SWORN COMPLAINT.

Now, for the benefit of all pseudo investigative reporters, before any prosecutor files a case, a police report is required. According to Bergonia, Ms. San Jose filed the complaint before the Manila Police District.

Bergonia wrote that Bander allegedly molested the complainant and that the incident allegedly took place on July 15, 2006. This means that the prosecutor and the police investigator worked for three months to verify if such complaint merits the filing of the case. To understand this better, perhaps an episode of Law and Order would be helpful, especially for those who never even covered the police beat (where most if not all cub reporters begin their professional careers to become full-fledged journalists) and the courts.

What we’re trying to say here is, the prosecutor doesn’t just invent a person to criminally prosecute any person, let alone a foreigner, which the Philippines has been courting to conduct business in the Philippines, invest there and spend their dollars in the country. (But then again, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas revealed, albeit carelessly, that almost half of all Americans who come to the Philippines go there to engage in sex, but that is another story.)

In the People’s Tonight story, Bergonia wrote that Ms. San Jose said “she gave Bander $100 as partial payment for the visa application.” The story goes that Ms. San Jose had sought Bander’s “help” in getting a U.S. visa.

Several years later, the case was dismissed and Bander claimed that Ms. San Jose was fictitious and because the complaint was based on “trumped up charges.”

It should be noted, however, that Ms. San Jose was seeking Bander’s help for a visa five years earlier, back in 2006. This could mean that Ms. San Jose has been wanting to leave the country for greener pastures.

Balita, which, as mentioned by the other paper, had gone to the Philippines – because this is how an investigative story is conducted – had inquired from the prosecutor’s office about the Bander case. Indeed the documents showed that there was a case filed, that a certain Ms. San Jose swore before a prosecutor, and a People’s Tonight story was published.

Five years may have been too long and perhaps Ms. San Jose is no longer in the Philippines. Besides, how could the case progress when the accused was never present in the Philippines? And this we will present why in our next issue.

(Next week, we will publish here a copy of the warrant of arrest. We will also present more legitimate and legal documents in succeeding issues.)

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