MANILA, Philippines—Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome has sacked the entire Criminal Investigation and Detection Team (CIDT) in Batangas for their alleged involvement in extortion and other criminal activities.
The PNP chief said there had been complaints that operatives of the Batangas CIDT headed by Chief Insp. Jay Agcaoili were into kidnapping and extortion (“hulidap”) of suspected lawbreakers.
All the personnel of the Batangas CIDT were reassigned to the Police Holding and Administrative Unit (PHAU) at Camp Crame to make them available to face criminal and administrative investigation.
Bartolome said seven Batangas CIDT personnel were caught with the P400,000 ransom paid by the family of a college student who was arrested last Wednesday for alleged illegal drug use.
The CIDT policemen reportedly originally demanded P1 million for the release of Christina Rodriguez, but the family was able to bring the amount down to 400,000.
The PNP chief also ordered Agcaoili’s immediate superior, Senior Supt. Bernabe Balba, who is the regional officer of the 4th Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDU), to submit an explanation in writing.
Balba, however, denied that his operatives in Batangas were into “hulidap” activities and even decried the raid and arrest of the Batangas CIDT members and other civilians.
In a statement, Balba said the arrest of Rodriguez was legitimate, saying the suspect was into drug trafficking and gunrunning in Batangas and Metro Manila.
On Thursday, Bartolome himself instructed Calabarzon (Police Regional Office 4A) regional director Chief Supt. James Melad and newly designated Intelligence Group (IG) director Chief Supt. Charles Calima Jr. to investigate reports that Batangas CIDT personnel were negotiating with the family of Rodriguez for her release in exchange for P1 million.
Rodriguez, a sophomore student at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasay, was reportedly snatched by armed men from a bus terminal in Pasay City in the afternoon of April 18.
The victim told investigators her abductors brought her to the Batangas CIDT office in Camp Miguel Malvar, Batangas City, where she was held captive until her rescue on Friday evening.
Rodriguez’s family was instructed to bring the P400,000 to the Batangas CIDT office.
In an entrapment and rescue operation, 80 P500 bills dusted with ultraviolet powder were included in the ransom.
Melad reported that at around 11 p.m. on Friday, PRO4A and IG operatives in coordination with Batangas police rescued Rodriguez and arrested seven Batangas CIDT personnel.
Those arrested were identified as Senior Police Officer 3 Emmanuel Rabe, SPO2 Apollo Marasigan, SPO1 Maximo Catedulla, SPO1 Donnabelle Campos, PO2 Jeffrey Malibiran, PO2 Jose Wally Banaag and civilian utilityman Celso Ansino.
PO1 Novel Calo of the Silang, Cavite, Municipal Police Station was also among those caught in the entrapment. Melad found his presence highly suspicious.
Operatives are following up on the identity of two others referred to as “Sir Athan” and “Sir Jimmy” who are believed to be part of the syndicate.