DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- Police authorities on Thursday announced the arrest of a man, who allegedly tried to extort money from companies operating in the Southern Mindanao region by posing as an al-Qaeda member.
Chief Superintendent Andres Caro, Southern Mindanao police chief, identified the suspect as Romie John Rosalia.
Caro said Rosalia was arrested on March 23 yet but the police delayed the announcement until they were certain he did not belong to the terror group.
He said Rosalia sent emails to various companies in the region, including banks, hotels and shipping companies, where he detailed how much he wanted from them.
The demand ranged from a few million pesos to P60 million, which the suspect wanted to be deposited to his account with the Land Bank of the Philippines.
Caro said that in Rosalia?s e-mails, he warned that if they failed to pay, the companies will be subjected to terror attacks.
But instead of giving him money, the management of some companies that received Rosalia's extortion letter reported him to the police.
It was not known whether or not others had actually given him money.
Chief Inspector Querubin Manalang, information officer of the Southern Mindanao police, said they set up an entrapment operation against the suspect.
He said that after months of surveillance, police finally caught up with Rosalia inside the Quagmire Internet Café where he was sending an extortion e-mail to another company.
Manalang said the suspect was subjected to interrogation and extensive background check that failed to show he worked for al-Qaeda or its local allies.
Caro said what they found instead was a number of swindling charges against Rosalia in Butuan City.
"He is just a swindler," he said.