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The Most Notorious International Crimes Committed in the Philippines

Attempted Pope assassination count: 2.
ILLUSTRATOR WAR ESPEJO
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We're not saying the Philippines is a crime haven, but... a lot of stuff has gone down here. From attempted assassinations and cyber heists, here are some of the most notorious international crimes that were perpetrated in the Philippines.

1| Attempted assassination of Pope Paul VI

Throughout history, there have been multiple Catholic popes that have been murdered and assassinated. And, one of the most significant attempts in recent times was carried out in the Philippines.

On November 27, 1970, while Pope Paul IV was set to arrive in the Philippines, a Bolivian surrealist painter who had been living in the country named Benjamín Mendoza y Amor Flores made his way to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (then Manila International Airport) dressed as a priest. He then somehow made it on to the tarmac as the Pope disembarked his jet and stabbed him twice in the neck.

Thanks to his private secretary who partly blocked Mendoza's arm, the Pope got out of the whole situation in pretty good shape. After the commotion, the knife Mendoza had used was found with the inscription "bullets, superstitions, flags, kingdoms, garbage, armies, and shit." Mendoza was apprehended and tried, while the Pope went through his official visit as usual. But the fact that the Pope was even wounded at all wasn't revealed until after he died.

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2| Bojinka plot

The Bojinka plot has been referred to as a precursor to Al Qaeda's September 11 attacks. In 1995, terrorists Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed planned to execute a three-phase attack in the Philippines: Pope John Paul II assassination, bombing 11 U.S.-bound airliners, and crashing a plane into CIA headquarters.

Yousef first tested out small versions of his plot by bombing a mall in Cebu. Next, he detonated a bomb under a seat in Greenbelt Theater in Manila. The tests, which got bigger and bigger, led to the Philippine Airlines Flight 434 bombing. The plot's test bombs ultimately led to one death and numerous injuries.

Before the real plot could come to fruition, however, it was abandoned after a fire started at the terrorists' Manila apartment. The police found bombing paraphernalia, including hot plates, chemical solutions, electrical wiring, and more evidence in the apartment. With Yousef's computer, the police tried to warn the U.S. but investigators "didn't take the information seriously." 

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3| Bill Gates' hacker

Imagine having the guts to hack the bank account of a tech giant who also happens to be one of the world's wealthiest. Well, that's exactly what Bulgarian hacker Konstantin Simeonov Kavrakov did to Bill Gates. Kavrakov, known as the "King of Hackers," was originally arrested in Paraguay for hacking Gates. But, he somehow made his way to the Philippines to commit more crimes. His specialty? Credit card cloning and skimming. The Philippine authorities caught him in 2015 after attempting to withdraw money using different counterfeit bank accounts. He was reportedly found with assorted credit cards and cash amounting to P76,000.

4| Bangladesh Bank robbery

Another cyber heist that involved the Philippines was the Bangladesh Bank robbery. In February 2016, hackers attempted to steal close to $1 billion from the central bank of Bangladesh in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Before the full transfer could be completed, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York blocked the remaining transactions for suspicious characteristics. Still, $101 million made it into accounts in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. While the money transferred to Sri Lanka was fully recovered, only $18 million out of the $81 million in RCBC accounts in the Philippines was retrieved as it was reportedly quickly laundered through the gambling industry.

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The NBI launched an investigation and ultimately fined RCBC a P1 billion penalty imposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Meanwhile, the Philippines was almost blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering.

5| Peter Scully

Peter Scully's case has come to be known as one of the most horrific in the Philippines. The crimes involved the dark web, child rape, child pornography, murder, and more. The whole thing started when Scully fled Australia after being involved in a property scheme. He set up his base in Mindanao and built a pedophile porn ring that included pay-per-view films on the dark web.

Scully enacted the crimes with the help of his Filipino girlfriends Carme Ann Alvarez and Liezyl Margallo. The three abused children as young as 11 and 12 years old, as well as an 18-month-old girl. He was finally arrested after making an extreme film available. The Dutch National Child Exploitation Team opened an investigation and tracked Scully in Malaybalay City. The arrest uncovered more of Scully's crimes, including allegedly murdering an 11-year-old girl before asking her to dig her own grave.

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Paolo Chua
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