Several police officers, a retired military official, and a worker at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) are part of a kidnap-for-ransom syndicate that preys on BIR employees, a high-ranking official of the Philippine National Police (PNP) alleged today.
PNP-National Capital Region Police Office (PNP-NCRPO) chief Major General Guillermo Eleazar told radio station DZMM that they came to that conclusion over the course of their 12-month investigation, which the PNP conducted despite the alleged victims’ refusal to file a case against the kidnappers for fear of reprisal.
“There are [members of the syndicate] who are active cops, whom we cannot name, and there are those who have gone AWOL. We have also learned that they are working with at least one retired military personnel,” Eleazar said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“Definitely [the syndicate] is working with a fixer (an employee in the BIR),” he said.
Eleazar said this after a shootout yesterday between members of the PNP and a suspected member of the kidnapping syndicate in Marilao town in Bulacan. The police killed suspected gang member Leo dela Fuente, 41, as they were about to raid his home in the village of Loma de Gato, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Police allegedly found eight guns inside dela Fuente’s home, including two M16 rifles. They also found fake police uniforms, which the kidnappers would allegedly use when abducting their victims.
The police also raided the houses of three other suspected gang members yesterday– Romeo Manalastas, who kept homes in Marilao and Caloocan City; Jover Garcia in San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan; and Lloyd Antonio in Caloocan City.
The three suspects were not in their homes during the time of the raid, but the police arrested Garcia’s wife, Rosalinda Garcia, their two adult children Christine Joyce Garcia, and Joseph Nicholas Garcia Jr., and Julieto Tering, the father of Antonio’s domestic partner, reported Manila Bulletin.
Seized from Manalastas’ homes were several guns, grenades, and ammunition. Cops allegedly found a handgun in Antonio’s home while a handgun and a grenade were reportedly found on Garcia’s property.
According to Eleazar, the syndicate extorted millions of pesos from its victims, which also included rich businessmen.
“They accost these victims and some of them would even wear [fake] PNP uniforms. They will demand money after they accost the victim. Either from the victim themselves or from their relatives. What sets them apart from other gangs is that their transactions are done in a quick manner. They don’t hold on to the victims for more than a day,” Eleazar told CNN Philippines.
Eleazar said the PNP will divulge the names of all syndicate members once their investigation wraps up.