AGENTS of the Philippine National Police Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG) shortly before noon yesterday arrested a Caloocan City Police-Community Precinct commander accused of extorting money from gasoline sellers in the area, PNP-IMEG director, Brigadier General Ronald O. Lee said.
In a report to PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, the official identified the suspect arrested during the entrapment operation right inside his office as Major Celso Sevilla, a 51-year old resident of no. 600 Area A, Camarin, Caloocan City.
Arrested along with Sevilla was his supposed ‘tong collector’ identified as Nestor Rivera,53, a jobless resident of 16486 Carnation Street, San Lazaro, Caloocan City.
Still being hunted is Corporal Albert Cruz, also a member of the Caloocan City Sub-Station 10.
The PNP-IMEG was fully supported by officers from the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Major Gen. Debold M. Sinas and the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Brig. Gen. Joseph Ulysses C. Gohel in the conduct of the counter-intelligence operation to arrest rogues in police uniform.
According to Brig. Gen. Lee, they conducted the entrapment operation following a complaint from Jomar Casila, a gasoline vendor from Camarin, Caloocan City.
Lee said they found out following a series of validation that the accused were involved in a weekly protection racket wherein they demand a weekly ‘P300 payola’ from each vendor of gasoline products in Purok 3, Barangay 178 in Camarin.
The official said they discovered that last September 11, members of the Caloocan City Police Station 10 raided different stalls in Purok 3 and confiscated 23 gallons of gasoline and two cases each containing a liter of bottle gasoline products.
It was an obvious ‘Oplan Pakilala’ or a scheme where rogue law enforcement authorities raid establishments of ill reputation and others who are involved in unregistered businesses and demanding weekly ‘payola’ from owners of the raided places in exchange for their unhampered operations, Lee said.
The official said shortly after the September 11, 2019 ‘raid’ in Camarin, the accused demanded a P300 ‘weekly payola’ from each vendor of bottled gasoline in the area telling them they won’t be charged anymore in court and they would be allowed to continue their business.
“From then on, extortion became a regular practice among its personnel even during the Enhanced Community Quarantine period until one complainant sought our assistance,” Lee said.
The PNP-IMEG director said that around 10:30 a.m. yesterday, members of the IMEG Luzon Field Unit, with the assistance of agents from the NCRPO Regional Special Operations Group; the Counter-Intelligence Division of the PNP-IG and the 82nd Special Action Company of the PNP Special Action Force conducted the entrapment operation.
He said the two suspects were arrested while in the act of receiving the marked money from the complainant. Cpl. Cruz managed to escape and is still being hunted by the PNP-IMEG as of press time.
Recovered during the sting were three marked P100 bills, assorted mobile phones and around P3,000 in various denominations. Maj. Sevilla was also stripped of his PNP-issued 9mm Beretta semi-automatic pistol.
Both are now being held at the PNP-IMEG headquarters in Camp Crame facing charges for robbery-extortion. A separate case for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graff and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standard will also be filed against the two policemen, said Lee.
Maj. Gen. Sinas ordered the immediate relief of the two policemen from the Caloocan City Police Station and their transfer to the NCRPO Regional Personnel Holding and Administrative Section in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City where they will be daily accounted.
The NCRPO chief also ordered the recall of the firearms issued to Maj. Sevilla and Cpl. Cruz and instructed the NCRPO Regional Intelligence Division to investigate other colleagues of the two who are with them in their ‘tong collection’ activities.
“ I have also ordered the filing of administrative charges against the two policemen, offenses which will warrant their dismissal from the police force,” said Sinas.
The Caloocan police major was the 3rd erring policeman to be arrested by the PNP-IMEG since last July 23, the 1st being Master Sergeant Aurelio Pine of the PRO10 Regional Intelligence Division and Staff Sgt. Roberto Francisco of the Zamboanga City traffic division.
Both were arrested in separate entrapment operations following complaints they were extorting money from poor citizens.