FOR allegedly posing as a priest and then collecting money during a fiesta celebration in Tondo, Manila over the weekend, a 38-year old man was arrested by the Manila Police District (MPD).
MPD-Station 1 commander, Superintendent Rey Magdaluyo, identified the suspect as Marlon Ponterez, said to be a member of a criminal gang called ‘Sputnik’ and a resident of Barangay Bangyas in Calauan, Laguna.
He had been charged with usurpation of authority and robbery extortion before the Manila Prosecutors’ Office.
It was learned that Ponterez, accompanied by his mother and sister, went to the Happy Land area in Tondo and gave a talk. Moments later, he was reportedly seen blessing the residents and their homes, particularly in Barangay 105 and then receiving cash donations from them. Police said what made the residents become suspicious was when Ponterez placed the money he collected inside the Bible that he carried with him when he gave the talk.
One of the residents sought help from the police to check if Ponterez was a legitimate priest and it was then that he was discovered to be a fake.
Furthermore, police said that upon verification, Ponterez was found to have served time for carnapping and was released only in the last quarter of last year. On questioning, Ponterez admitted that he belongs to a group of poseurs who make money from residents of areas where there are fiestas by pretending as priests and offering prayers and blessing of homes.