August 24, 2019
There have been a spate of kidnappings lately, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) seems helpless.
The reports are alarming.
A total of 30 — not 10 — personnel of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have been kidnapped and released after they paid ransom, according to my sources at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Of those kidnapped, two were BIR regional directors and the rest were examiners, my sources said.
One of the victims, an examiner, was raped by her kidnappers, the sources said.
The sources said the ransom paid for their release ranged from P2 million to P20 million.
But for obvious reasons, only several of the victims filed complaints with the NBI and wanted their identities kept secret.
The reason is crucial: Where did they get the money to pay their ransom?
It was from the victims that the NBI learned about the total number of BIR personnel who were kidnapped and paid ransom.
An unimpeachable source in the Chinese gaming community said that at least 25 big-time gamblers from Mainland China have been kidnapped and released after paying ransom.
Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde, PNP director general, told me his office had received reports of kidnappings, but said he didn’t have the actual figures.
He told me over the phone he would ask the PNP anti-kidnapping task force.
* * *
Here’s the NBI take on the ambush of two Bureau of Customs (BoC) officials who were wounded by unidentified men Friday night in Makati City: It was either a kidnap-for-ransom or robbery gone awry.
Those wounded when the armed men shot them were Maricon Manalo, 56, officer in charge of the BoC’s formal entry division, who was driving her grey Toyota Altis car; and Marietta Lasac, 60, principal appraiser of the formal entry division.
Charlene Salazar, another passenger of the car, escaped unharmed.
According to my NBI sources, Manalo and Lasac are siblings.
They were carrying large amounts of cash, and someone tipped off the armed men who ambushed them.
Why were they carrying large amounts of cash?
It was a Friday, the last day of the working week when tara or collected bribes are distributed among corrupt Customs officials and employees, one of my NBI sources said.
The partihan or division of the loot takes place out of the customs zone since every nook and cranny in the offices of the customs bureau now has close circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
Sisters Manalo and Lasac acted as collectors for the corrupt Customs personnel because of their sensitive positions, NBI source said.
They were either on their way to rendezvous point with the loot or they had disposed of some of it when they were waylaid, said my NBI informant.
As could be gleaned from the CCTV at the scene of the crime — Lapu-Lapu Avenue in Barangay Magallanes — the armed men went about their escapade with precision.
The armed men were aboard a sedan, probably an Innova, which overtook the victims’ car and blocked its path.
Five men, carrying pistols, alighted and tried to get inside the victims’ car, but Manalo backed away and so the gunmen fired.
The gunmen fled because of the presence of the rush-hour Friday crowd and the crime scene was near the Magallanes barangay hall.
“The gunmen’s intention was to get into the victims’ car and commandeer it with their car following behind,” an NBI investigator said.
CCTV footage after the incident showed that several persons went to the ill-fated car after the victims were rushed to the hospital.
The persons got many paper bags, presumably containing cash, from the car trunk minutes after the victims were gone, the CCTV showed.
Those persons were probably customs employees waiting for them at the rendezvous point who tried to rescue the victims after they called them via cellphones.
The NBI is investigating the crime in collaboration with the Makati police.
My NBI sources say that based on the precision with which the botched robbery or kidnapping was done, the perpetrator are either military men or policemen.
“They could be former or active members of the PNP Special Action Force or Army Rangers,” an NBI investigator said after watching the CCTV footage of the crime.
* * *
Police Master Sgt. Sawright Lobhoy shot to death his superior officer, Maj. Emerson Palomares, commanding officer of the 125th Special Action Company of the Special Action Force (SAF), after the latter scolded him for not supporting his children.
SAF is the PNP’s elite unit; its equivalent is the Rangers and the Special Forces of the Philippine Army.
Members of elite units are supposed to be more disciplined than ordinary policemen or soldiers.
If a SAF member could be so undisciplined as to shoot his own officer, what can you expect from an ordinary policeman?
* * *
Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar “Billy” Dulay has asked the Bureau of Immigration to prevent me from leaving the country after he slapped me with several libel cases.
The libel cases stem from the conversation of two BIR officials recorded on video that I featured in this space — the exact words of which were transcribed — and on my Facebook account.
The video conversation has gone viral.
The BIR officials, whom I have identified as Assistant Commissioner Teresita Angeles and Dulay’s executive assistant Don Samson, described the BIR chief in very graphic unsavory language.
The travel ban on me is meant to embarrass me in front of immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport when I leave for China on Wednesday, August 28.
I am accompanying our President in his visit to Beijing as the country’s special envoy to China for public diplomacy.
In his petition filed with the Immigration bureau, Dulay said I’m a “flight risk,” meaning I might not come back to the country because of the many libel cases I’m facing.
Flight risk, my ass!
Did I commit murder, robbery, rape, plunder or other heinous crime that I would become a fugitive of justice?
If I committed libel — only after the court convicted me — I was doing it in my work as a seeker of truth.
Dulay graduated from the Ivy League Ateneo Law School, where its graduates are supposed to be brilliant.
But with his line of thinking — that I might escape — he’s a dumb lawyer.
How can I not return to the country when I hold a responsible position of special envoy to China, and I write a column in the country’s most influential paper?
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