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EXTORTION SCAM

3 Cebu lawyers get threats after colleague’s ambush

/ 05:04 AM September 05, 2019

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Unscrupulous individuals are apparently trying to make money following an attack on a lawyer in this city on Monday.

At least three Cebu-based human rights lawyers received a call from a man claiming to be a leader of a gun-for-hire group from Davao City, who demanded P100,000 from them in exchange for sparing their lives. The caller said the lawyers’ names were on his group’s hit list.

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But lawyers Magdalena Lepiten, Ian Manticajon and Kim Grace Mendoza suspected that the calls might have been a scheme to extort money from them.

The calls were received in separate times on Tuesday, a day after two men on board a motorcycle attacked lawyer Inocencio de la Cerna while he was leaving the Cebu City Hall of Justice.

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De la Cerna survived the attack, but had cuts from glass shards after the suspects fired at his Toyota Land Cruiser.

Same number

Lepiten said she received a call at 9:39 a.m. Tuesday from a certain Bobby who claimed to be from Davao.

She said she did not entertain the caller and instead turned off her phone. Moments later, she said received a text message from the same number—0997-1779161.

The message read: “Ma swerte lang c dela cerna. ekaw ug dli ka makig coperate mamatay ka. 100K kapalit sa imung kinabuhe (Dela Cerna was fortunate to have survived. If you won’t cooperate, you will die. P100K in exchange for your life).”

Lepiten said she posted her conversation on her Facebook account to know if other lawyers received the same call. It turned out she was not the only one.

Mendoza posted on her Facebook account a recording of her conversation with the caller who used the same mobile phone number.

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Probe

The man told Mendoza that she was next in the list after De la Cerna but he would spare her life if she had P100,000.

Mendoza, however, told the man to “just kill me” as she didn’t have the money. Irritated, the man called her “crazy (pagkabuang gyud nimo)” before dropping the call.

Manticajon, who missed a call from the same number four times on Tuesday, urged the police and the National Bureau of Investigation to arrest the people behind the threats.

“Although it’s a scam, it still somehow instilled fear among us. It’s not alarming but rather annoying … The government must do something to make every citizen safe and feel safe,” he said.

Col. Gemma Vinluan, city police chief, said she created a team to investigate the matter.

“Although the motive here might be extortion, these lawyers should not take the threats likely. No matter what you call it, it’s still a threat,” she said. —REPORTS FROM ADOR VINCENT MAYOL AND NESTLE SEMILLA

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TAGS: Death threats, Ian Manticajon, Inocencio de la Cerna, Kim Grace Mendoza, Magdalena Lepiten
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