SHOWING he means business when he ordered a stop to all illegal exactions in the city, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday announced the arrest of a man and a woman who were caught in flagrante collecting money from vendors in Blumentritt, Sta. Cruz, Manila.
Moreno said the two were nabbed by policemen under Maj. Rosalino Ibay, Jr., head of the Special Mayor’s ReactionTeam (SMART).
Ibay identified the suspects as Vilma Cortez, 48, secretary, of No. 378 Malvar St., Tondo, Manila and Jeffrie Solomon, 37, a checker, of Blk. 3, Lot 18, Phase III, Golden City, Barangay Salawag, Dasmarinas, Cavite. Both are employed at a company called, Bagong Maynila Development Corporation.
Ibay said that prior to the suspects’ arrest, four vendors appeared at the office of Moreno and lodged a formal complaint regarding the extortion activities of the suspects, victimizing sidewalk vendors specifically along Blumentritt corner Felix Huertas in Sta. Cruz.
Based on the complaint, Ibay said Moreno tasked him to conduct an entrapment operation. Ibay formed a team, composed of SMART deputy Maj. Cicero Pura and Capt. Edward Samonte, who carried out the operation and had the suspects arrested at around 8:45 a.m. yesterday.
Investigation showed that the two suspects had long been collecting P100 per day from each of some 3,000 vendors plying their trade in the said area when the receipt being issued to them is only for P30. The receipts issued are the kind that can be bought from ordinary bookstores.
The collection, Ibay said, is in exchange for freedom from any form of harassment.
The complainants said they have no choice but to give in to the demand, as they narrated to Ibay an incident in September last year when those who tried to refuse were harassed to the extent that guns were pointed at them.