Bank withdrawals lead NBI to killers
IT TOOK more than 100 men who conducted a stakeout on dozens of automated teller machines (ATMs) across four cities for days but in the end, their efforts paid off.
At 2 a.m. on Saturday, the National Bureau of Investigation arrested five men—three of them policemen—for kidnapping, robbing and killing a businesswoman whose body was found on Friday in a plastic drum thrown into the Pasig River.
Lawyer Manny Eduarte, head of the NBI-Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division, identified one of the policemen as Insp. Eljie Jacobe of the National Capital Region Police Office supplies division.
He declined to identify the two other policemen, except to say that one of them was a rookie. The remaining two suspects are civilians.
Jacobe and the rookie policeman were both in police uniform when NBI operatives caught them withdrawing P50,000 from a Banco de Oro ATM using the card of the victim, 50-year-old businesswoman Adora Lazatin.
Jacobe tried to resist, leading to a scuffle between him and the arresting officers.
According to Eduarte, Saturday’s withdrawal was the sixth since Lazatin was kidnapped by the suspects on Monday. Her disappearance was reported by her family the following day to the NBI which promptly launched an investigation.
Based on her family’s complaint, Lazatin, who owned a parcel of land in Las Piñas City, was supposed to meet a buyer on Monday morning. The buyer who had expressed interest in her property later turned out to be Jacobe.
The NBI said that the victim met with the suspects in Bicutan. From there, they took her to Caloocan City where they strangled her, stripped her of her clothes, leaving only her underwear.
NBI operatives, however, have yet to determine why the group removed Lazatin’s clothing before sealing her body in a drum which they threw into the Pasig River near a ferry station in Escolta, Manila.
Eduarte said the suspects who had targeted the businesswoman for her money immediately started withdrawing money from her bank account. He added that they had also planned to demand a ransom from her family but along the way, they decided to kill her.
The NBI said the suspects, using Lazatin’s BDO ATM card, withdrew P50,000 every day from her account. Unknown to them, her family was keeping track of the transactions and passing the information on to authorities.
Some 100 men, including volunteers, were deployed by the NBI to monitor selected ATMs in Manila, Parañaque, Taguig and Caloocan cities in the hopes of catching the suspects.
With the help of a witness who was able to identify Jacobe, authorities were able to track down the suspects and arrest them.
Eduarte said charges of kidnapping with murder would be filed against the suspects on Monday, followed by a press conference where Jacobe’s suspects would be presented to the media.
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