2 VCM burning suspects held

Jose Mario M. Espino

POLICE have arrested two suspects in the burning of two Vote Counting Machines and some 200 unread ballots in Jones, Isabela on Tuesday morning, Police Regional Office 2 director, Brigadier General Jose Mario M. Espino announced yesterday.

The official said that Jayson Leano, a 27-year old resident of Barangay Sta. Isabel in Jones municipality surrendered to the Jones Municipal Police Station accompanied by local Bgy. Captain Alberto Plaida Jr. at 10 a.m. yesterday.

The second identified as Rodel Pascual, 34, a farmer residing in the same area was arrested in a follow-up operation conducted by members of the PRO2 Regional Intelligence Division and the Isabela Police Provincial Offices at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“It appears that  Leano decided to peacefully yield to the Jones police station after finding out that his accomplice has been arrested already,” said Espino.

The official said that criminal charges are being readied against the two suspects who have been tagged as suspected members of a partisan armed group operating in the municipality.

Espino said that the suspected PAG leader identified as Wilson Betita was arrested in Bgy. Sta. Isabel last May 2 and is now in jail for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

An investigation showed that at around 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, a Board of Election Inspector identified as Arlyn Santos reported to the Jones Municipal Police Station that a group of unidentified armed men blocked their path  as they were about to deliver the election paraphernalia to the Jones Municipal Hall.

The woman said that around a kilometer away from the barangay proper, they were stopped by the suspects who ordered them to unload the VCMs before burning the machine and other poll paraphernalia slated for use by voters in six precincts in Bgy. Dicamay II.

Espino told the Journal Group that the two suspects belong to the group of Betta alias ‘Wilson’ who was arrested along with one Jessie Pascual for illegal possession of explosives and violation of the Omnibus Election Code in Bgy. Dibuluan last May 2.

Recovered from the suspects’ possession during their May 2 arrest were one caliber .45 pistol with a magazine containing eight live ammunition, two hand grenades, two plastic sachets containing dried marijuana leaves , three plastic sachets containing suspected shabu, a motorcycle, two handheld radios with charges and photographs of their suspected liquidation targets identified as Leticia and Suzett Sebastian, Nestor Apolinario and Melvin Go.