Senate President Migz Zubiri has revealed details of a recent robbery/extortion attempt against him, which has now resulted in two arrests.
Zubiri approached the Philippine National Police (PNP) after receiving a series of messages from individuals posing as Siquijor Governor Jake Vincent Villa and Board Member Abner Lomongo, extorting money for a supposed political convention.
The veteran legislator received the messages on 14 August 2022, with the suspects demanding up to P60,000 from him.
Sensing that the messages were bogus, the seasoned lawmaker immediately sought assistance from PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin, after which the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – Regional Field Unit National Capital Region were tapped to plan and conduct a police entrapment operation.
“I knew from the start that they were bogus. Pero hindi ko rin sila pwedeng palampasin lang.”
“Hindi ko po alam kung paano nila nakuha ang personal contact number ko. But I knew from the start that they were bogus. Pero hindi ko rin sila pwedeng palampasin lang, dahil grabeng panloloko po ang ginagawa nila,” the senator said. “Nandamay pa sila ng ibang opisyal.”
In a personal call, he was able to confirm that Villa had no involvement in the matter.
“I have heard from some of my colleagues that they have been victims to similar schemes before, so I was determined to work with the PNP to put a stop to these guys,” Zubiri said.
The entrapment operation was conducted the following day, 15 August 2022, after the suspects agreed to meet one of Zubiri’s staff in Castillejos, Zambales, for the turnover of cash.
Two suspects were arrested for robbery, extortion, estafa, and illegal possession of firearms — one a 23-year-old male, the other a 46-year-old male, both residents of Castillejos, Zambales. The latter has previously been arrested for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
The police also confiscated boodle money from the suspects, covered by one genuine marked 1000-peso bill, as well as one caliber .45 pistol without a serial number, but with seven live ammunition. The suspects failed to present a license to possess and carry.
“They came armed and dangerous. Buti na lang po at walang nangyari sa aking staff.”
“They came armed and dangerous. Buti na lang po at walang nangyari sa aking staff, pero kung wala po doon ang pulis, who knows, baka gumamit na sila ng dahas makuha lang ang perang hinihingi nila?” Zubiri stressed.
“I thank the PNP, particularly CIDG-RFU NCR, for leading the operation, as well as Southern DFU CIDG, and the Castillejos Police Station, Zambales PPO, where the suspects were brought,” he added.
Involved in the entrapment operation were PCol. Randy Silvio, overall commander; PCol. Hansel Marantan, Regional Chief, CIDG NCR; Team Leaders PltCol. Mark Jason Gatdula, PMaj. Merben Bryan Lago, PMaj. Edison Ouano, and PMaj. Michael Visco; Assistant Team Leader Plt. Glenn Umali; arresting officers Patrol John Edward Urian, Patrol Justine Calma, Jr., and Patrol Emerson Avendano; investigators PSSg. Rainier Abundo and Patrol Dan Lester Salazar; and Pcpl. Francis Malabute, Patrol Jorman Agustin, and Patrol Levi Adolfo.
“I laud their quick action, and I hope that these arrests will serve as a loud warning to any similar individuals or groups out there: Huwag na kayong magtangkang manloko nang ganito, dahil panigurado, selda rin ang bagsak niyo,” Zubiri said.
He said that the SIM Card Registration bill needed to be passed immediately, in order to prevent similar criminal attempts from happening to others in the future.
“Bilang senador, itong nangyari sa akin ‘yung isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit ko patuloy na isinusulong ang SIM Card Registration Bill. Marami na pong biktima ng ganitong mga modus, kaya ni-refile ko po talaga itong Senate Bill No. 82, or the SIM Card Registration bill. I know that it was vetoed by the last administration, but I am hopeful that we can pass it this Congress,” Zubiri concluded.