3 Candelaria cops held for rob-extortion

A Philippine National Police Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG)-led entrapment operation in Candelaria, Quezon  this afternoon resulted in the arrest of three local police officers and their three civilian cohorts for abducting drug offenders and forcing them to pay money for their release without any charges, PNP-IMEG director, Colonel Ronald O. Lee said.

In a report to PNP chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, the PNP-IMEG director identified the policemen as Police Staff Sergeants Alvin Dimaranan and Samuel Merlosa and Patrolman John Faulmini, all assigned to the Candelaria Municipal Police Station Drug Enforcement Unit.

Also arrested were civilians Nelson Ravelo, Jessica Alcantara and Reggie de Chavez, who were described as “civilian assets or tipsters” of the arrested cops.

“We are also tracking down two other policemen who managed to escape in the forested area at the height of the raid,” said Lee, adding the arrest was supported by Police Regional Office 4-A director Brigadier General Vicente D. Danao Jr.

Members of the PNP-IMEG, along with operatives from the PRO4-A Regional Special Operations Group and the 82nd Special Action Company of the PNP Special Action Force, conducted the operations at the BPI Candelaria branch and at the suspects’ safehouse in Barangay Maasin past 1 p.m. yesterday following an information relayed to their office.

He said in the  operation, suspect De Chavez was arrested while  making withdrawals from the ATM account of some complainants. Shortly after the suspect’s arrest, officers conducted a follow-up operation based on information provided by De Chavez. 

Lee said  the accused cops tried to engage the PNP-IMEG, SAF and PRO4-A operatives in a brief shootout until the suspects surrendered.

“Arrested inside the suspects’ safehouse were the three policemen and the two other civilians while a kidnapping victim was also rescued,” Lee said.

Recovered from the policemen’s safehouse were shabu,  assorted firearms,  bullets and the  motor vehicle being used by the suspects.

“We have information that the accused policemen are using the raided safehouse as a place where they keep arrested drug personalities while negotiating ‘ransom’ for their release without any charges. In short, they are engaged in so-called ‘bangketa/hulidap’ operations,” Lee said.

Lee said the cops will be charged with robbery-extortion and administrative charges for serious grave misconduct while their cohorts will face  criminal charges too. 

The suspects are now being held at the  PNP-IMEG in Camp Crame.

With Gemi Formaran