MANILA, Philippines - The Calabarzon chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) insisted yesterday that the arrest of a 25-year-old drug suspect in Sto. Tomas, Batangas last Friday is aboveboard, as he denied any kidnapping and P1-million extortion on the suspect’s family.
Senior Superintendent Bernabe Balba, CIDG Region 4-A chief, said the Batangas CIDG strictly followed all standard operating procedures in the arrest of Maria Christina Rodriguez, 25, a resident of Pasay City.
Balba said Rodriguez, also allegedly involved in gun running and drug trafficking, was arrested in Sto. Tomas, Batangas at around 2:30 p.m. Friday and was not kidnapped in Pasay City last Wednesday as her family claimed.
Based on documents, Balba said the operation to arrest Rodriguez was legitimate and that all necessary coordination was followed by the Batangas CIDG, under Chief Inspector Jay Agcaoili, with the Batangas police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the province.
Confiscated from Rodriguez were two heat-sealed plastic sachets containing what is believed to be shabu.
Agcaoili, for his part, denied that his group negotiated with Rodriguez’s family for a P1-million ransom in exchange for her release.
The Batangas CIDG was preparing charges against Rodriguez when joint elements of the regional police and the Intelligence Group stormed their office at around 11 p.m. Friday and rescued her, along with fellow drug suspects Fernando Banaag III, Abegail Marasigan, and Hycee Bandelaria, who were arrested in separate operations.
The raiding team disarmed and pinned all the Batangas CIDG personnel on the floor.
After demobilizing the CIDG personnel supposedly for no apparent reason, Agcaoili said the raiding team forcibly opened doors, filing cabinets, the evidence storage room and even the personnel quarters and lockers and took the personal and office valuables of the Batangas CIDG members.
Among those allegedly taken were an Armscor shotgun, a white Apple laptop, a black Samsung laptop, an Armscor 40-caliber, an Elisco 5.56-mm M-16 rifle, 500 bullets for 5.56-mm, and a 9-mm-caliber pistol and magazine.
Also taken were the personal and service firearms and cell phones of the six accosted Batangas CIDG operatives – SPO3 Apollo Marasigan, SPO3 Emmanuel Rabe, SPO2 Maximo Catedrilla, SPO1 Donnabelle Campos, PO2 Jose Wally Banaag, and PO2 Jeffrey Malibiran.
The raiding team took the six CIDG operatives, along with Rodriguez, a utility boy of their office and a male visitor, to a waiting vehicle and brought them to the regional police headquarters at Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome has ordered the relief of Agcaoili and his men and their transfer to the holding center at Camp Crame.
Chief Superintedent James Melad, Calabarzon police director, said charges of kidnapping, robbery, extortion and arbitrary detention have been filed against the six CIDG personnel along with PO1 Novel Calo, of the Silang, Cavite police, utility man Celso Fernandez Ansino, a certain Athan and Jimmy, and two John Does before the Batangas City prosecutor’s office.
Aside from the criminal case, Melad said the arrested lawmen also face administrative charges.
Agcaoili said his group would consult their lawyers for the proper filing of administrative charges over the alleged illegal raid on their office as well as robbery charges for the loss of their firearms and other assets. – With Ed Amoroso - By Non Alquitran