x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Philippines government inquiry examines burglary at consulate

The Philippine government conducts an internal investigation into the break-in at its consulate in Dubai last month.

The Philippine government has conducted an internal investigation into the break-in at its consulate in Dubai last month during which about Dh100,000 (US$27,000) was stolen from a safe. Crescente Relacion, an official in Manila's foreign affairs department, spent five days investigating the burglary and will be reporting his findings to Dubai Police.

A consulate source, who asked not to be named, said: "Mr Relacion spoke to consulate staff and asked about former staff members who used to sleep inside the consulate premises. We are waiting for the findings of the investigation." The money, in cash and cheques, was in part collected from fees for services such as passport renewals. It was taken from a safe in the office of the consulate's finance officer, whose passport was also stolen. It is believed the thieves struck on Friday, Sept 5, when consulate staff were off.

No one has been charged but the consulate's driver and janitor, identified only as AR, is being held at the Muraqqabat police station for questioning. He was detained after police learnt he had a previous conviction in relation to an unpaid bank loan. Police said several leads were being pursued. "Criminal investigations are still under way and we are doing all we can to catch the culprits. Investigations will continue until we have an end result," said a spokesman for Dubai Criminal Investigations. The consulate source confirmed police were still questioning AR.

"We were told that we could not visit him in jail. He's under police custody not because of the burglary but because he has an unpaid bank loan and that he overstayed in the country for more than 1,600 days after absconding from his employer." Police have also questioned the finance officer and another driver from the consulate. The key to the safe and a piece of paper containing its combination were taken from the finance officer's desk.

Claro Cristobal, a spokesman at the Manila foreign affairs department, said last month: "Investigations are being undertaken both internally and in close co-ordination with the relevant authorities in Dubai." rruiz@thenational.ae