Gambling raid pits cops vs NBI team
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—The government’s campaign against the illegal numbers game “jueteng” has put two law enforcement agencies on a collision course, following Thursday’s arrest by police of an eight-member team of the National Bureau of Investigation that raided a suspected gambling den in Lasam town, Cagayan province.
The NBI team’s three-vehicle convoy was flagged down and the agents rounded up by members of the Philippine National Police’s Regional Public Safety Battalion moments after they arrested 13 suspected jueteng operators and employees in Barangay Callao Norte in Lasam.
“They were stopped because of a complaint for alleged kidnapping, robbery and [trespassing]. Also, they did not have proper coordination with the local police,” said Chief Insp. Eduardo Felix, Lasam police chief.
“We did not know they were NBI agents. What was reported to us was that armed men abducted people. And considering the seriousness of the report, we set up checkpoints. The [NBI men] were intercepted by the Police Third Mobile Company in Bangag, Lal-lo, Cagayan,” Felix said.
He said the alert came from a Lasam councilor.
The NBI agents, led by team leader Ferdinand Manuel, however, were released also on Thursday by the Cagayan prosecutor’s office.
“We tried to show [the arresting police officers] the special orders from our director and other proof but they ignored us. They kept saying they were simply following orders from superiors,” said an NBI special investigator, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to reporters.
The NBI team swooped down on a house in Lasam, owned by one Guillian Agatep, and caught 13 suspects allegedly processing bets for the May 29 jueteng draw.
The team arrested the suspects led by Isaac Agatep Jr., reportedly a gambling operator. It was on its way to Tuguegarao City in three vans for inquest proceedings when it was stopped by the policemen.
An inquest is a legal procedure where the prosecutor determines whether or not criminal charges may be filed against suspects.
Felix said they arrested and disarmed the NBI men based on a complaint by Councilor Isaac Agatep III that his father, Isaac Jr., and his men were abducted by unidentified armed men.
Manuel offered the police signed documents from NBI Director Virgilio Mendez indicating that the NBI operation was mounted after Cagayan Gov. Alvaro Antonio complained about unabated illegal gambling operations in Lasam.
The arrested suspects and the NBI agents were all subjected to inquest proceedings at the Department of Justice office in Ballesteros town in Cagayan.
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Glenhur Ladiocan later dismissed the kidnapping and robbery charges filed by the police against the NBI men. He also recommended the filing of illegal gambling charges against Isaac Jr. and his men.
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