2 cops, 52 others charged for P7.6M qualified theft
MANILA, Philippines — Two police officers and 52 other people are now facing criminal charges at the Taguig City prosecutor’s office for apparently orchestrating a scam, which siphoned off more than P7 million from the financial assistance funds of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
In a press statement on Tuesday, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) announced that they recently filed complaints of qualified theft and theft through falsification of public documents against the PNP Provident Fund loan processor, PO3 Jovelyn Agustin and her live-in partner, PO3 Orlando Belen from the Highway Patrol Group; an accomplice identified as Mervelyn Taguilaso; and 51 other individuals.
The respondents have been accused of issuing and encashing a total of P7.63 million worth of missing and illegally transacted checks, the CIDG said.
The complaints were filed last October 27 at the Taguig City prosecutor’s office, after an investigation that spanned more than a year, the CIDG director, Chief Supt. Victor Deona, said in the statement.
In a report, the CIDG Major Crimes Investigation Unit (MCIU) head, Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, said the suspects had “orchestrated” the scam since October 2013, during which they illegally issued and encashed 78 Provident Fund checks at the General Santos Avenue, Upper Bicutan, Taguig branch (DOST Branch) of the Landbank of the Philippines.
Chief Insp. Elizabeth Jasmin, the CIDG spokesperson, explained that the PNP’s Provident Funds were meant for financial assistance or loans, with minimal interest, as applied for by PNP employees. “[Applications] would be lined up for approval, depending on whether funds are available,” Jasmin explained.
The modus operandi would start with Agustin, “gravely abusing the trust and confidence” of the PNP Provident Fund Inc.
Agustin, a finance police non-commissioned officer working in the institution, would “steal” the Provident Fund checks, then issue them to fake PNP Non-Uniformed Personnel (NUP).
The PNP-NUP “players” would be hired for P3,000 or P4,000 by Agustin and Taguilaso, to encash the checks at the bank, Olitoquit said, in his report.
Jasmin said probers later found out that those who made the withdrawals were not actually listed in the PNP’s roster of employees.
The modus operandi was discovered in May 2014, when the LandBank called up the PNP Provident Fund Inc. questioning why there were requests for withdrawals despite there being no funds available. The PNP Provident Fund Inc. then sought the help of the CIDG in June 2014 to conduct a “full-scale investigation,” Deona said.
Last September 28, the CIDG authorities were able to secure and implement a search warrant issued by a Manila court on Taguilaso’s residence in Del Monte subdivision, Almanza Uno, in Las Piñas City. Recovered there were five fake PNP NUP identification cards, and an original Landbank Advise of Checks Issued and Cancelled from the bank branch on Bicutan.
Deona said the recovered evidence “clearly described and illustrated the participation and role of each individual in committing such anomalies.” Sought for clarification, Jasmin declined to reveal further details so as not to jeopardize follow-up operations against the other suspects.
The two identified police officers are also facing administrative charges at the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS). SFM
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