MANILA, Philippines - The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said yesterday 15 of its agents – facing charges of obstruction of justice, grave threats and physical injuries filed by the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) for allegedly trying to rescue two women arrested for estafa – were performing a legitimate operation.
In a statement, CIDG Director Samuel Pagdilao said he has also asked the Philippine National Police leadership to dig deeper into Friday’s standoff between the operatives of CIDG-National Capital Region, who pursued Quezon City police officers they believed had kidnapped Marilyn Ong and Edna Alfuerte.
Alfuerte and Ong were convicted by the Metropolitan Trial Court in Manila for seven counts of estafa involving P5,507,000 in January 2011. Ong is also facing an indictment in the US involving an $80-million scheme to defraud the US Export-Import Bank. The case is subject to validation with the US Department of Justice.
CIDG to sue QC cops
Pagdilao also said the CIDG will pursue the investigation of the kidnapping case for possible filing in court against the abductors of Ong and Alfuerte, who were snatched along Daang Hari Road in Imus, Cavite when their vehicle, a gold Hyundai Starex van (NIL-145), was blocked by a maroon Mitsubishi Adventure occupied by armed men.
CIDG-NCR chief Senior Superintendent Joel Napoleon Coronel said contrary to allegations that the team led by Quezon City-CIDG head Chief Inspector Rey Magdaluyo tried to obstruct the arrest of Ong and Alfuerte, CIDG agents acted on a complaint by lawyer Marie Espina that her companions were kidnapped by armed men who introduced themselves as Interpol and CIDG.
Coronel also maintained that the CIDG has strictly followed protocol in police operations and properly coordinated with the Tactical Operation Center (TOC) of the QCPD.
Coronel said that last Friday at around 5:30 p.m., Espina, another lawyer and Alfuerte appeared before the CIDG and asked for police assistance.
Espina said the abductors introduced themselves as Interpol operators with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the CIDG, and that Ong and Alfuerte were being arrested by virtue of a warrant against Ong, who has been convicted of an undisclosed crime in the United States.
Held for ransom?
Coronel said Espina told them that armed men who snatched Ong have also contacted them to produced P10 million as ransom for Ong’s liberty.
Coronel said Espina claimed she received several text messages from Ong telling her they were brought to a coffee shop at the corner of Maginhawa and Malingap streets in Teacher’s Village at Barangay Sikatuna, Quezon City.
Espina said the men who held Ong captive introduced themselves as NBI agents and told her that the Starex was already included as part of the ransom and ordered her to execute an open deed of absolute sale for the vehicle. She also said Ong’s abductors doubled the ransom to P20 million, and that the amount should be delivered to the coffee shop.
Coronel said that all the text messages were recorded in the message inbox of Espina’s cellular phone, which she showed to CIDG investigators.
After coordinating with the QCPD’s TOC, Coronel organized two teams and accompanied Espina to verify her claim. He said they saw the Starex parked in front of the coffee shop and the victims guarded by several armed men in the shop.
He said the CIDG operatives approached the armed men posted outside the shop, and one of the men identified himself as a member of the QCPD’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit.
Coronel said CIDG operatives arrested all the armed men and rescued Ong. He said while the CIDG operatives were accounting for all those arrested and rescued, around 70 QCPD policemen arrived in several vehicles and patrol cars and, at gunpoint, snatched Ong and her alleged abductors.
The CIDG teams, led by Magdaluyo, identified themselves and informed the QCPD policemen that they were in an ongoing police operation that had been coordinated with the QCPD’s TOC.
Coronel said Ong, Espina, her associate lawyer and Alfuerto were taken to the QCPD headquarters in Camp Karingal and were detained together with Police Officer 2 Sheila Famuleras of the CIDG. - By Mike Frialde