(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 18, 2013 - 12:00am
CALAMBA CITY , Philippines – A junior police officer identified with slain suspected gambling lord Vic Siman was gunned down Saturday night in this city.
Police Officer 2 Rufino de Ocampo Mendoza was having a meal in an eatery at Crossing here when two men on a motorcycle pulled up and opened fire with a caliber .45 handgun at around 10:45 p.m.
Mendoza died at 3:30 a.m. yesterday at the Calamba Medical Center.
Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, head of the Calabarzon police, said he had ordered probers to look into possible links between the murder and the killing of Siman along with 12 companions in Atimonan, Quezon on Jan. 6.
President Aquino is still studying the report of the National Bureau of Investigation on the Atimonan killing.
Members of the joint police-military team involved in the killing have been grounded, with top officers sacked from their posts.
Estipona said investigators are looking into reports that Mendoza was among the targets in Coplan Armado, the police operation plan whose principal target was Siman.
Calamba police chief Superintendent Caesar Tannagan told The STAR Mendoza had received death threats shortly before the attack.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the filing of graft charges against retired Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa and seven other ranking police officers in the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged anomalous purchase of 75 defective rubber boats worth P131.5 million in 2008.
In a 34-page order signed Feb. 12, Morales denied their motions for reconsideration and affirmed the earlier resolution of her office dated Sept. 26, 2012, finding probable cause to indict the accused.
Aside from Versoza, to stand trial are Police Deputy Directors General Jefferson Soriano and Benjamin Belarmino Jr., Directors Luizo Ticman, Ronald Roderos and Romeo Hilomen, Chief Supt. Herold Ubalde, and Chief Supt. Villamor Bumanglag for violation of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
All the respondents, except for Roderos, filed separate motions for reconsideration.
In denying their motions, the Ombudsman said the arguments presented by the respondents were “a mere rehash of their initial arguments set forth in their counter-affidavits which we already considered, weighed and resolved before we rendered the resolution sought to be considered.”
The case stemmed from the complaint and supplemental complaint filed on Nov. 15, 2011, and Feb. 17, 2012, respectively, by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the military and other law enforcement offices (OMB-MOLEO).
Records showed that the PNP bought in 2008 through a negotiated procurement plan 75 rubber boats and 18 spare engines or outboard motors for the PNP Maritime Group under the Capability Enhancement Program Funds.
The PNP entered into four separate supply contracts dated Dec. 18, 2009, with Enviroaire, a supplier, for 93 units of outboard motors for P44,175,000, and 10 police rubber boats for P11,650,000; with Geneve, for the purchase of 41 rubber boats for P47,765,000; and with Bay Industrial for 10 units at P11,650,000.
The Ombudsman said that upon delivery of the first batch of rubber boats and outboard motors, the PNP Maritime Group, through its Technical Inspection Committee on Watercrafts (MG-TICW), found various deficiencies in the equipment, making them risky to users, while the boats and engines were not functional when fitted together, making them unusable for the PNP’s disaster operations.
The special panel of investigators that handled the case found that the government suffered undue injury in the amount of P131.55 million due to the irregular purchase of the rubber boats.
Morales earlier imposed administrative sanctions ranging from dismissal from the service and forfeiture of retirement benefits on the 11 accused high-ranking police officials.
In a decision dated Jan. 22, Morales declared Ubalde and Belarmino liable for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct. The two were ordered dismissed from the service.
The Ombudsman also ordered the forfeiture of their retirement benefits and their perpetual disqualification from public office. If the penalty can no longer be served by reason of resignation or retirement, the alternative penalty of a fine equivalent to one year’s salary is to be imposed, in addition to the accessory penalties, the Ombudsman said.
Morales also found Police Director George Piano, Chief Supt. Luis Saligumba, Senior Supt. Job Nolan Antonio and Senior Supt. Edgar Paatan, all members of the PNP’s inspection and acceptance committee, liable for simple neglect of duty. They were ordered suspended for six months without pay.
Joel CL Garcia, aka Joel Crisostomo de Leon Garcia, Ronald Lee, Ma. Linda Padojinog and Ruben Gongona, all members of the PNP national headquarters’ bids and awards committee and technical working group, were ordered suspended for one month without pay.
For his failure to take a “more proactive” stance as a member of the oversight committee and acting service chief of the Installations and Logistic Service, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Director Conrado Sumanga Jr. was given a stern warning by Morales to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties.
The government will challenge in the Supreme Court the Court of Appeals’ dismissal of the syndicated estafa charge against a coaccused of fugitive Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee, Malacañang said Monday.
The syndicated estafa charge against Cristina Sagun was downgraded to simple estafa after she was dropped from the case, a development that would allow Lee, who has been in hiding to avoid arrest, to post bail.
Lee may surface after the Court of Appeals ordered on Feb. 11 to quash the information for syndicated estafa against one of his coaccused, his lawyer said on Monday.
“We spoke to [Justice] Secretary [Leila] de Lima this morning and the government intends to pursue the case. We are challenging the decision of the Court of Appeals in the Supreme Court,” Undersecretary Abigail Valte, the deputy presidential spokesperson, said in a briefing.
De Lima said the Department of Justice (DOJ) would bring the case to the high court even if her department had yet to receive on Monday a copy of the latest appellate court ruling.
“But my instructions are for the DOJ, through the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General), to elevate the matter to the Supreme Court,” De Lima said in a text message.
The syndicated estafa charge involved billions of pesos in allegedly anomalous loans that Lee’s company, Globe Asiatique, obtained from the government for a housing project in Pampanga province.
Globe Asiatique was accused of using “ghost borrowers” and fake documents to obtain more than P6.5 billion in loans from Pag-Ibig (Home Development Mutual Fund), for its Xevera housing project in Mabalacat and Bacolor towns.
Vice President Jejomar Binay said the appellate court’s resolution brought “grave injustice” to the victims of the alleged scam.
Binay ordered Pag-Ibig, which he chairs, to coordinate with the DOJ and the OSG and file an appeal in the Supreme Court.
The DOJ has 60 days to get a temporary restraining order against the appellate court ruling.
“We owe it not only to the victims of Delfin Lee but to all the members of Pag-Ibig to pursue the case,” Binay said in a statement. “Those who are responsible for this scam should be brought to justice,” he said.
Pag-Ibig cap exceeded
Documents showed that Globe Asiatique took out P7.031 billion for 9,951 housing loan accounts from the Pag-Ibig Fund from March 2008 to August 2010. The amount exceeded the P500-million annual cap given by Pag-Ibig to its accredited developers.
The houses, it turned out, were in the names of “special buyers” or people who were paid to take out the loans. The contracts and titles were supposed to be amended to bear the name of the real buyers.
This scheme was reportedly hidden because it was Globe Asiatique that collected the amortization supposedly paid by the buyers. The scam surfaced when many of the houses were left unoccupied or were found being used by other people and not the legitimate buyers.
The appellate court’s 10th Division has affirmed its October 2012 dismissing the syndicated estafa case filed by Pag-Ibig against Sagun, former head of Globe Asiatique’s documentation department, in a regional trial court in San Fernando, Pampanga.
The appellate court, in effect, denied with finality the motion filed by the OSG seeking a reconsideration of its Oct. 5, 2012, ruling.
Recall arrest warrant
“The pronouncement is without prejudice to the filing by the Department of Justice of other appropriate criminal charges, if warranted, against the other accused,” said the appellate court ruling penned by Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan.
The court also made it clear that not only must the warrant of arrest be recalled but the information for syndicated estafa must be quashed “since only one information was filed against all the accused.”
The ruling covered Lee, his son Dexter, Globe Asiatique chief accountant Cristina Salagan and Pag-Ibig lawyer Alex Alvarez.
The appellate court ruled last year that the DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion by including Sagun in the case, pointing out that her job consisted of checking documents and verifying information about borrowers, hence, it was ministerial.
With the dismissal of the charges against Sagun, the number of accused is down to four, effectively downgrading the syndicated estafa case to simple estafa, a bailable offense.
Five accused are needed for a syndicated estafa case to proceed.
Valte said Malacañang was dismayed by the appellate court’s ruling, but would respect it.
“Of course we’re disappointed because our position is to prosecute the accused. But it doesn’t mean that we will not respect the decision. In fact, we’re taking the appropriate legal remedies against the decision.
“But you also understand the sentiment of the victims of the scam because if you’re a victim, it’s hard to understand the technicality in the case. So, we are pursuing the case for the government,” Valte said.
While there’s a P2-million reward for information leading to the arrest of Lee, Valte acknowledged that fugitives like the housing developer have “resources” to evade the authorities.
Lee may surface
Willie Rivera, Lee’s lawyer, said his client “benefited” from the appellate court’s Feb. 11 resolution favoring Sagun.
“Yes, Mr. Delfin Lee may appear,” Rivera told the Inquirer on Monday.
But he said Lee would surface only if Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the City of San Fernando Regional Trial Court Branch 42 would comply with the Feb. 11 order of the appellate court to quash the information for syndicated estafa and recall and lift the arrest warrant.
“The rule is immediate compliance. Otherwise, [Reyes] could be charged administratively or face contempt,” Rivera said.
It was in May 2012 when Reyes found probable cause for syndicated estafa and ordered the arrest of Lee and his coaccused.
When there is no more syndicated estafa case, Lee can post bail, Rivera said.
Reyes could not be reached for comment on Monday because she was attending a five-day training program.—With a report from Christine O. Avendaño
PNP won’t create fact-finding team on slay of Siman’s aide
By Cecille Suerte Felipe
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 19, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police (PNP) is not likely to create a fact-finding team to investigate the killing of a junior police officer identified with slain suspected gambling lord Vic Siman in Calamba City last weekend.
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the local police will handle the probe on the murder of Police Officer 2 Rufino de Ocampo Mendoza in Calamba City, Laguna last Feb. 16.
“There’s no need for a fact-finding team and the incident will be investigated by the local police on instruction of Calabarzon Police director Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona,” Cerbo added. Estipona ordered Laguna Police director Senior Superintendent Pascual Muñoz to look into possible links between Mendoza’s murder and the killing of Siman and his 12 companions in Atimonan, Quezon on Jan. 6.
The STAR learned that Mendoza was from Mindoro but transferred to Calamba City in 1997.
Mendoza was having a meal with his live-in partner in an eatery at Crossing when two men on a motorcycle pulled up and opened fire with a caliber .45 handgun last Saturday.
Cerbo said investigators could not yet see any indication of Mendoza’s link to Siman, but a police officer in Calabarzon, who requested anonymity, said investigators are looking at possible rivalry for the control of illegal gambling in the province as the motive behind the killing.
Probers said that Mendoza was allegedly involved in illegal gambling, particularly jueteng, video karera, and paihip operations in Calamba.
The same police officer told The STAR that Siman helped Mendoza put up video karera machines in the area.
The same source said Siman and Mendoza became friends when the policeman was assigned at Calauan town, where he moonlighted as the gambling lord’s security and was also on the take in jueteng payola. Superintendent Caesar Tannagan, Calamba City police chief, said that Mendoza had been receiving death threats and was seeking assistance from a cousin, who was also a police officer, shortly before his death.
The source said Mendoza’s cousin was also reportedly involved in jueteng. He said the gunmen were reportedly from a Batangas and Quezon group.
President Aquino has yet to make public the report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the Atimonan killing, where police and military officers were among the victims.
Superintendent Hansel Marantan, team leader in the Atimonan police operation, maintained regularity in the incident despite questions raised by both PNP and NBI on the manner the checkpoint was carried out.
Marantan, the only police officer wounded in the incident, remains confined at the PNP General Hospital. – With Ed Amoroso
The public smelled a rat then, and true enough, a Senate committee report now confirms it: The tens of thousands of gallons of untreated waste dumped into Philippine waters by US Navy contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia of Malaysia (through its local subsidiary Glenn Defense Marine Asia Philippines Inc.) in October 2012 was no accident or honest mistake. It was a clear violation of the Philippines’ environmental and marine protection laws, and—more appalling—a result of the relevant government agencies’ failure to do their job in enforcing the law and making the US Navy contractor toe the line.
“The case at hand is a classic illustration of how legislation remains good on paper, but are unable to achieve the policy goals defined in these laws,” said the Feb. 5 report issued by the Senate committees on foreign relations and on environment and natural resources.
The case involved Glenn Defense’s unloading of some 189,500 liters of domestic waste and about 760 liters of bilge (oil-stained) water into Subic Bay. The sewage had been collected from the US Navy ship USS Emory Land, but the company’s defense at the time was the preposterous claim that “what we get from the US Navy is already pretreated wastewater… [This is] even cleaner than the ones coming out of our respective homes”—or so said Glenn Defense Philippines CEO Mateo Mayuga, a retired vice admiral.
“The US Navy and even commercial vessels have water treatment facilities aboard their ships,” Mayuga added. “It’s a practice in the US Navy that you don’t give away untreated wastewater.”
But that claim was quickly debunked by the US Navy itself, which admitted through Capt. Glenn Pendrick, commanding officer of USS Emory Land, that the ship “has no waste treatment facility, [which is why] we hire third-party contractors.”
Even so, the waste was not “hazardous,” protested the company. Lormelyn Claudio, Environmental Management Bureau director for Central Luzon, concurred on the grounds that the detritus didn’t meet the technical definition of the term: “It is septage, not hazardous waste. It’s domestic waste.” A less malodorous word, of course, for plain feces.
That defense also crumbled in the light of tests conducted by the Subic Water and Sewerage Co. on water samples from Glenn Guardian and another support ship, the results of which showed that the vessels carried “sewage waste with high levels of toxicity” that were “beyond the permissible limits” and exceeded Philippine standards. The findings, said Roberto Garcia, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chair, only “confirmed that [Glenn Defense] did not treat the waste, which it should have.”
How could Glenn Defense have disregarded those limits and flouted our environmental laws? The Senate report said the company even failed “to comply with the government’s permitting process” and to acquire “the necessary accreditation as a hazardous waste collector and transporter.”
Violation after violation—and who is ultimately liable for this virtual assault on the country’s marine environment? Sadly, over and above the liability of the reckless US Navy contractor, greater blame appears to lie in the hands of government agencies whose incompetence and inaction all but allowed the incident to happen.
There was “no formal coordinating mechanism” between and among the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and SBMA “with respect to the enforcement of marine protection laws, particularly in areas under the administrative supervision of SBMA,” lamented the Senate report. “It is precisely in the absence of such coordinating mechanism that Glenn Defense was able to impose its own interpretation of our laws, rules and regulations, with neither the SBMA, DENR nor PCG intervening in ways that public interest will be upheld.”
The DENR is guilty of a “lack of effective environmental leadership,” the report said.
Which should explain not only how Subic Bay—and who knows which other parts of Philippine waters—has become a dumping ground for other countries’ refuse, but also how the US Navy, so soon after the incident, could again run afoul of Philippine environmental laws by barreling through the protected, ecologically fragile Tubbataha Reef and ending up with one of its ships run aground there.
If the earlier incident is any indication, then the stink of this latest debacle will probably reach all the way to the cushy offices of the country’s impotent environmental overlords—as usual. Time to crack the whip on them.
Last edited by Sam Miguel; 02-20-2013 at 08:52 AM.
Judge on leave; court order on Globe Asiatique housing scam stalled
Inquirer Central Luzon
4:10 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013
SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—The implementation of a Court of Appeals order quashing the charges of syndicated estafa against a Globe Asiatique (GA) officer, Cristina Sagun, and recalling the arrest warrant against her has been delayed because the judge handling the case has yet to report for work.
The court order could save fugitive housing developer and GA president Delfin Lee and three others from prison as they would be allowed to post bail if the charges are reduced to simple estafa.
Judge Maria Amifaith Fider-Reyes of the Pampanga Regional Trial Court Branch 42, who is supposed to implement the appellate court’s Feb. 11 resolution, is on a five-day training course outside the province starting Feb. 18 and will not be back until Feb. 25.
It was Reyes who in May 2012 found probable cause to indict Sagun, the GA documentation chief, for syndicated estafa together with Lee, the latter’s son Dexter, GA accountant Cristina Salagan and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund) lawyer Alex Alvarez.
They were accused of using fake and ghost Pag-Ibig Fund members to avail of P7 billion in housing loans for GA’s Xevera projects in Bacolor and Mabalacat towns in Pampanga from 2008 to 2011.
President Aquino raised the reward for the arrest of Lee, who remains at large, to P2 million.
No probable cause
According to Lee’s lawyer, Willie Rivera, only a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court can stop Reyes from complying with the appellate court’s order. “It should be immediately implemented,” Rivera said.
With only four accused left, there is no more legal basis for syndicated estafa, he pointed out. The law requires five or more persons colluding to commit the crime of syndicated estafa.
“[There] is simply no probable cause to indict [Sagun] of the crime of syndicated estafa, nor is there sufficient evidence to prove her knowledge and/or participation in the alleged fraudulent acts of Globe Asiatique and its officers,” Associate Justice Angelita Gacutan wrote in the Feb. 11 resolution upholding her Oct. 5, 2012, resolution.
Sagun, she said, was “only guilty of not exercising her functions diligently and in a prudent manner.”
But the Department of Justice said it would pursue the syndicated estafa case and take the case to the Supreme Court.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has been harping on the Pag-Ibig Fund controversy, using it to attack Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, a former Pag-Ibig Fund president and chief executive officer who is now the Team PNoy spokesperson.
Being in LP a burden
Quimbo said his membership in the ruling Liberal Party did not give him immunity from any suit that may arise from the alleged scam.
“Membership in the LP, unlike other parties, serves as a burden to conduct oneself beyond reproach and follow the example of [President Aquino],” he said.
“From the beginning, I have always been strong in my condemnation of the fraud that Delfin Lee brought on the Pag-Ibig Fund and its members,” Quimbo said.
He claimed that the reported irregularities occurred after he was replaced as Pag-Ibig president and CEO in March 2009.—Tonette Orejas
Biazon: Aquino not out to get Enrile, new EO on used-car import needed
By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
1:48 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013
STA. ANA, Cagayan—Even as he denied the Aquino administration was going after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Wednesday urged President Aquino to issue a new executive order to settle once and for all whether the importation of used cars should be allowed in the country.
Biazon said the new executive order would settle the “conflict” between Executive Order No. 156, which bans the importation of used cars, and EO 418, which importers claim allows the importation.
Carrying his own camera, Biazon inspected the more than 200 cars that were stopped from leaving the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) here after the Supreme Court upheld EO 156.
“To clarify EO 156 and EO 418, probably the issuance of a new EO is the right thing to do to settle all of these legal questions,” Biazon told reporters after his inspection.
“Probably the President can issue another EO to clarify those matters and settle our national policy on whether the importation of second-hand vehicles should be allowed,” he added.
Pending such a move from the Palace, Biazon said his marching orders from Malacañang were to “uphold the Supreme Court ruling” on EO 156. Customs stopped the 200 second-hand cars from leaving Port Irene.
Is Enrile accused?
Enrile sponsored the creation of the CSEZFP but Biazon said he has not been instructed to get Enrile.
“There’s no such instruction. The last instruction that I got was to uphold the Supreme Court decision,” said Biazon.
“And I don’t think it’s necessary…. Is there any accusation against Senator Enrile?” he added.
While calling for the issuance of a new EO, Biazon said the “bigger picture” should be considered since importing second-hand vehicles was affecting local car distributors.
“It affects those who put up businesses in our country (and they have the) downstream benefit of employment. Local distributors employ more people than importers,” he said.
“So, the impact is big if they are affected by these imports. And that effect is also felt downstream,” he added.
In Manila, local distributors of luxury car brands cheered the high court decision upholding the ban on the importation of second-hand cars that have been a bane of their business for years.
“We believe that the government knows what’s best for our country,” said Robert Coyiuto, chairman of PGA Cars, which distributes Audi and Porsche cars in the country.
Maricar Parco, president of Asian Carmakers Corp., which distributes BMWs in the country, said the industry fully supported the high court’s decision upholding EO 156. “We believe that this will serve as protection to the auto industry,” she said.
“When customers buy from authorized dealers, they are assured of competitive pricing, proper vehicle emission specification and road worthiness, and most importantly, after-sales support,” Parco added.
Drop in sales
Sales of luxury car brands dropped by 14 percent to 2,067 units in 2012 from 2,400 units the previous year despite the boom in the economy.
The top two brands—BMW and Mercedes Benz—saw their sales drop by 15 percent and 31 percent, respectively, while Audi yielded the No. 3 spot to Lexus (up 40 percent) as its sales fell by 27 percent.
Biazon said that for 2012, duties and taxes from imported second-hand cars that went through the Cagayan free port amounted to only P300 million.
“So, while we may lose revenue (when stopping) these importations, we must look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture to me is that the local industries provide more downstream benefits than importers,” Biazon said.
He said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was also seeking clarification from the Supreme Court on the effectivity of its decision on EO 156. He said the second-hand cars arrived on Jan. 8 and Jan. 15 while the high court order was dated Jan. 7.
“The (importers) received a copy of the decision in late January after the arrival of the vehicles. Again, we want to clarify at what point to consider the applicability of the decision,” Biazon said.
“But those vehicles that are still coming, definitely we will treat them using the decision,” he added.
Biazon downplayed reports of smuggling at the free port. “Please remember that mere arrival does not automatically mean that it is smuggled because this is a free-port zone,” Biazon said.
“We won’t let them out here, but if we see a legal basis for their importation, of course we are duty-bound to process them and collect the duties,” he added.
Biazon said he would formally inform the President about his recommendation for the issuance of a new EO when he submits his findings to the Palace.
Among the cars Biazon inspected at the Apollo Cagayan Trading Corp. garage inside the free port included a Boxter Porsche with a price tag of P700,000 to P800,000 and several BMW Z-3 roadsters with prices ranging from P500,000 to P800,000.
Customs Deputy Collector Leilani Alameda said the importation of second-hand cars began at Port Irene in 2005. She said their duties and taxes are computed in Manila.—With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan
MANILA, Philippines—Michael Ray Aquino, a former aide and coaccused of Sen. Panfilo Lacson in the Dacer-Corbito double murder case, has applied for reinstatement in the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Inquirer learned on Tuesday.
Inquirer sources in Camp Crame said Aquino submitted his application for reinstatement to the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management (DPRM) last week.
A senior police official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak with the media, said Aquino had wanted to “clear his name and redeem his honor.”
“Ninoy (Aquino’s nickname) has been accused of so many things since he left the PNP after he was implicated in the Dacer-Corbito case,” the source said.
“He apparently intends to clear his name and redeem his honor. He wants to prove that he can still serve his country despite what he had been through,” the official added.
Another source, a classmate of Aquino in the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1988, said the former police official wanted to rejoin the PNP to get the benefits due him as a former government employee.
“He has every reason to ask for the release of the financial benefits he should receive as a former police official,” the second source said.
Reached on his mobile phone, Aquino did not categorically deny that he had asked the PNP to take him back.
Asked if he had indeed submitted his application for reinstatement, he said in Filipino: “Who told you that? I don’t know about it.”
“I cannot answer your question because (the documents) are with my lawyer. But it’s my right (to apply for reinstatement) for purposes of claims of benefits,” he said.
Pressed to elaborate, Aquino said: “The documents are with my lawyer, but I don’t know what they contained.”
Director Catalino Cuy, DPRM chief, said he was not aware if his office had received Aquino’s application for reinstatement.
“I don’t think he can still apply because it’s been a while since he was discharged (from the PNP),” Cuy told the Inquirer.
Aquino, a former police senior superintendent, flew to the US in 2001 shortly after he, Lacson and several other police officials were tagged in the abduction and killing of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Emmanuel Corbito in November 2000.
Later, he was accused of illegally accepting classified US secret documents supposedly as part of a plot to overthrow then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He was subsequently arrested in the US in 2005 for an espionage case.
The former intelligence police officer pleaded guilty in 2006 for possession of secret documents and was sentenced to a 76-month prison term.
He was extradited to the country in June last year in connection with the Dacer-Corbito twin slays, but was ordered released by a Manila regional trial court six months later for lack of evidence.
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 21, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Was it a kidnapping or a daring rescue from life in prison?
About 20 armed men snatched from jail guards a notorious Chinese drug dealer, his wife and a companion in Trece Martires, Cavite yesterday morning while the three were being escorted to a court hearing for a drug-related case.
All three have been convicted of drug trafficking.
Initial reports from Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, Calabarzon police director, said Chinese nationals Li Lan Yan, alias Jackson Dy; his wife Wang Li Na, and Li Tian Hua were taken at around 10 a.m. in Barangay Lapidalio in Trece Martires. The three were arrested in 2003 and are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the dangerous drugs act.
Estipona said the three foreigners were escorted by four provincial jail guards when the armed men blocked their path. At gunpoint, the armed men opened the vehicle of the jail guards and grabbed the three Chinese from stunned guards.
Police said the armed men also took two handguns from the jail guards and boarded the getaway vehicle, a white van with license plate WTT-544 that was later abandoned at Barangay Aguado in Trece Martires.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II ordered a thorough investigation of the incident and vowed not to spare anyone found liable.
Roxas directed the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to lead the investigation.
He clarified that members of the provincial jail of Cavite, which is under the supervision of the Cavite government, were escorting the three Chinese suspects, and not jail guards of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
Chief Inspector Roque Merdegia, head of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) Intelligence and Investigation Division, said Li was considered one of the biggest drug lords before his arrest in 2003.
Lawmen seized from the suspect about P500-million worth of shabu and equipment used in manufacturing the drug.
Li was the owner of a shabu laboratory in Barangay Kapipisa in Tanza, Cavite and three shabu warehouses in Quezon City, Pasay City and Parañaque City at the time of his arrest, Merdegia said.
Merdegia said with Li’s escape, the policemen who worked hard for his arrest were disappointed and their lives are now in danger.
Merdegia said the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court had convicted the three Chinese of drug charges on April 29, 2009.
Their fourth companion Yan Ching Yi was acquitted by the same court.
Merdegia said the ringleader Li had amassed wealth from his illegal drug operations.
“He has a condominium in Marina Bay Homes, an exclusive subdivision, he had a Jaguar, beach resorts worth P46 million, three huge properties in Zambales, a mansion in Zambales, and bank accounts. He had five townhouses worth P8 million each,” said Merdegia.
Based on AIDSOTF records, Li’s shabu warehouses were located at the Marina, Bayview Homes in Paraaque, Horse Shoe Townhouse in Quezon City, and Lancaster Townhomes in Barangay 70 in Pasay City.
He pointed out some government agencies started forfeiture proceedings of all his assets but Li’s lawyer questioned this and such remains pending in court.
Merdegia revealed that on Aug. 31, 2011, Chief Superintendent Federico Laciste wrote a letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, informing her that the Ampang-Colangco robbery group was reportedly planning to rescue Li and his group for a fee of P50 million.
Laciste reportedly obtained the information from a member of the Ampang-Colangco group who was earlier arrested in a police operation.
Merdegia could not say what was the action taken by the Justice Department on the information about the plan to spring the suspects.