Cops, other suspects deny involvement in e-sabong operators’ abduction
MANILA, Philippines — Police officers and other suspects, who appeared before a Senate panel probe, have denied their involvement in the alleged abduction of e-sabong (online cockfighting) operators.
During the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs hearing on Monday, the partner of a certain Johnver Francisco, who is said to be an operator or an insider at an e-sabong franchise, accused at least six police officers of having knowledge about Francisco’s kidnapping.
The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs headed by Senator Rolando dela Rosa has conducted an inquiry into the reported disappearance of dozens of online cockfighting aficionados.
The woman, who was presented as a witness during the hearing, told dela Rosa that the following police officers conspired with brothers Nicasio and Nicholas Manio to abduct Francisco last April 18, 2021:
- Lt. Col. Ryan Jay Orapa
- SSgt. Denar Roda
- Ssgt. Afredo Andes
- Ssgt. Troy Paragas
- Ssgt. Jovelyn Tamagos
- Natividad Alreg
All of the police officers were part of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU), with Orapa as head of the group prior to being assigned to the Regional Holding Unit. Meanwhile, the Manio brothers are currently under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation after they were arrested on drug-related charges.
“Sino nagsabi sa’yo na may coordination papers ‘yong nag-operate? Meycauayan Police Station?” dela Rosa asked the woman, who answered in the affirmative.
“Saka sir kulang pa po sila, may isa pa pong pulis na ano. Si Natividad Alreg po, wala po d’yan […] siya po talaga ‘yong kumakausap sa Manio brothers and then kasama niya po ‘yon sila Ma’am Jovelyn Tamago, sila Orapa po,” the woman said.
While Orapa and the others denied knowing the Manio brothers, Francisco’s partner insisted that she has evidence to prove that they know each other, including a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera footage showing the police officers and the Manio brothers eating together.
“Tapos po may patunay na magkakakilala sila, si Jovelyn saka si Natividad saka ‘yong Manio brothers kasi may CCTV po kami ng NBI, na kumakain sila, magkakasama po sila do’n,” the woman added.
The Manios were also accused of being assets of the RDEU when it was under Orapa, which the brothers and the NCRPO unit denied.
After getting negative COVID-19 results, the Manio brothers were brought to the Senate session hall where the hearing is being conducted. The two denied participation in the alleged abduction of Francisco.
This led dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police chief, to ask why they were dragged into the incident — stressing that Francisco’s partner and the NBI confirmed that the watch of the missing e-sabong operator was found in their possession.
“So ano kayo? Kilala nino ba ang mga RDEU? Hindi kayo nagkasama sa mga lakad? Under oath kayo ah, pwede kayo magkakaso pagka kayo’y nagsinungaling. Basta ako sinasabi ko sa inyo under oath kayo, so totoo hindi niyo kilala ‘yong mga RDEU?” the Senator asked, to which the brothers replied in the negative.
“Paano nasabi na kayo ang kasama sa pagdukot ni Johnver Francisco? Sinabi raw ninyo sa asawa na kayo ang kasama sa pagdukot, in fact may relo pa na binigay daw sa inyo ni Johnver Francisco habang hawak niyo sila, at itong relo na ito, nasaan ito misis? Nandoon sa NBI?” he asked again.
“Wala po akong alam sa relo,” Nicholas Manio told dela Rosa.
According to Nicholas Manio, he does not understand why they are being implicated in the disappearance of Francisco when they have been arrested by the NBI even before the reported date of Francisco’s abduction.
“Nakakulong po kami ngayon sa kaso po naming drugs, hindi rin po namin alam kung bakit po meron kaming gano’n,” he said.
But, according to Francisco’s partner, NBI agents and investigators know that the Manios talked with the victims’ families to offer help. She claimed that the siblings told her that they would cooperate with the victims’ families, and also told her that Francisco has been buried in Laguna.
“Nakausap ko pa po ‘yan sa NBI mismo sabi niya makikipag-tulungan siya sa sa’min, sa mga unang-unang dinukot saka sir may ebidensya po kami, kasama po nila ‘yang mga ‘yan sa CCTV, kumakain po sila, saka meron din po akong video na vinideohan ko sila na kinonfront ko sila no’ng time na ‘yon. Umiiyak pa po ako sa kanila no’n, ang sabi pa po nila no’n nilubog na daw po nila sa Laguna,” she said.
“Sir, kasi inamin na po no’ng Manio brothers eh, na binigay sa kanila no’ng asawa ko, no’ng time na nadukot nila ‘yon, ‘yong relo kasi hiningi raw po nila. Then binigay raw po ni Lala (Francisco) no’ng time na nadukot nila, April 18, one year na nga po ngayon, ‘di ba. Sila po magpapatunay, binigay po talaga ni Lala sa kanila ‘yong relo, tapos no’ng nakuha po ni Atty. Ramos ‘yong Manio brothers, nakuha rin nila ‘yong relo ng asawa ko,” she added.
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