OPA brings security, assistance to Filipinos in Thailand
In early November, Colonel Dominador Matalang of the Office of the Police Attache (OPA) Philippine Embassy in Bangkok received a plea for assistance from a mother in the Philippines seeking help to apprehend her partner in Bangkok.
The OPA collaborated with the Royal Thai Police, the Foreign Affairs Division, and INTERPOL to arrest the suspect, Joe. He was accused of child abuse against his then-7-year-old daughter for the past 10 years. The daughter is now 17. Despite an arrest warrant from Philippine authorities, he had left the country. He was immediately put on the watchlist.
The Immigration Bureau record showed that the suspect entered Thailand on August 18, 2023, with a tourist visa valid until November 15.
On November 14, he was intercepted at Don Mueang Airport attempting to board a flight bound for China, and Thai authorities revoked his permission to stay, preparing for deportation.
Currently detained at the Immigration Detention Center, the suspect awaits deportation to face charges in the Philippines.
The Philippine Embassy expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Royal Thai Police, particularly the Foreign Relations Region1/Interpol NCB Bangkok, Foreign Affairs Division, and Investigation Division, Immigration Bureau, for their swift response in apprehending a Filipino fugitive wanted for rape in the Philippines.
The embassy commends their professionalism and emphasizes that Thailand is not a haven for fugitives.
Coordination and Intelligence sharing
This was not the only case that the OPA under Col. Matalang handled. In January 2022, his office also sought the assistance of the Royal Thai Police in the apprehension of two Filipino suspects charged with car theft in the Philippines.
“Our office has a PNP Overseas Filipino Help Desk maintaining an emergency contact number for police assistance, posted on the Embassy’s Facebook Page and website. We are available 24/7 and no appointment is required,” Col. Matalang explains.
With the urgency of his job, Col. Matalang uses a mobile phone number for immediate access.
Furthermore, Colonel Matalang emphasizes the importance of coordination with the host country. OPA has established an effective coordination mechanism with Royal Thai Police counterparts and active intelligence-sharing. It has a direct Royal Thai Police counterpart which is the Foreign Affairs Division (FAD) and also is the INTERPOL National Central Bureau Bangkok.
“FAD RTP detailed an Action Officer for OPA who handles our request for assistance and endorses us to the relevant RTP offices which accommodate our issues and concerns as endorsed by PE Bangkok,” Col. Matalang says.
Aside from the host government, OPA also shares intelligence and counter-intelligence initiatives with foreign counterparts on transnational crimes or terrorism, extraditions and handling of criminal fugitives, social interaction with the diplomatic community as well as members of the international organization, and international and domestic issues that have significance on PNP interest.
OPA for OFW in distress
The OPA not only handles criminal cases but also assists Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in vulnerable occupations. The Assistance to National (ATN) Section at the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok handles requests for assistance from distressed OF/OFWs. The ATN Officer interviews clients, takes statements, and seeks guidance from the Consul General and Police Attache for law enforcement and security concerns.
In the case of suspected criminals being deported without the capability to pay for airfare, the embassy assists by purchasing plane tickets and contacting their next of kin in the Philippines.
Since his posting in the Office of Police Attache in Thailand on May 30, 2022, Col. Matalang has been working non-stop and credited for the rescue of over 200 Filipino human trafficking victims (HTVs) in Myanmar and also a significant number of HTVs assisted and repatriated from Cambodia and Laos.
Not new to international humanitarian and intelligence work, Col. Matalang also served as UN Police Peacekeeping Contingent in Liberia from 2006 to 2008 and in Darfur, Sudan from 2009 to 2010. He was also in the Quick Response Team in Repatriating Filipinos in Libya in 2014.
Colonel Matalang also urges the Filipinos in Thailand and their families to coordinate and report cases of scams or fraud to the Embassy in Bangkok. The ATN will advise them on what to do and the issue will be forwarded to OPA should it necessitate investigation and police action. OPA shall collaborate with the local counterparts.
Colonel Matalang assures the Filipino community in Thailand that the OPA is ready to attend to their needs within the extent of the law, emphasizing, “We Serve and Protect.”
The Office of the Police Attache Hotline in Thailand can be reached at +66968191485