An extortion gang victimizing businessmen, mostly contractors in the province, was busted after the arrest of its leader late yesterday afternoon in a secluded sitio in barangay Cabawan, this city following an entrapment operation inside a construction site.
The arrest of a certain Renilo Sampaga y Domingo, the gang leader followed after a combined team of police operatives busted an extortion operation pulled against a Manila based construction firm working at the Abatan Bridge in Cortes town.
Police Senior Inspector Ricardo Tero and Police S/Inspector Jojit Manangquil led the combined team which worked out the entrapment operation which led to the arrest of another member of the extortion group identified as Roland Brigente, 26, a native pf Purok I, Tugolo, San fernando, Bukidnon but presently residing in Cabawan district, this city.
Brigente arrived at the construction site of Sargaso Construction in sitio Liloan, Poblacion, Cortes town at around 4:45pm yesterday. He went inside the office to look for Engr Jimmy Iteno who received the calls and text messages demanding a huge amount of money from the construction firm.
Engr. ItenoÂ informed the Cortes police under P/Insp Geronimo Conarco earlier that he has been receiving text messages since last month demanding cash with threats to burn their equipment if he will refuse to give the money.
Elements from the 47IB, 3IDÂ of the Philippine Army led by Capt. Roman Salvador , the 4th Co Regional Public Safety BatallionÂ under PO1 Lyle Joseph Allalid arrived at the scene to coordinate the entrapment operation together with elements of the Provl PNP command under Tero and Manangquil as well as the SWAT team and the Cortes PNP under chief Conarco.
During a conference earlier in the day, the team prepared the bundle of money, with two marked P500 bills to be used as evidence in court. The would be victim arranged with the extortion group their meeting at 4:30 yesterday afternoon at the construction site in Cortes town.
The suspect riding in a motorcycle arrived on time at the designated meeting place while police operatives were all set to entrap the giving of the moneyÂ by Engr. Iteno.
After receiving the money, the suspect sensed the presence of police operatives thereby drew a firearm from his pocket which prompted an operative to shot him, hitting his leg.
Seized from the suspect was a .22 caliber magnum revolver loaded with three live ammunition in its cylinder, a MK2 US fragmentation grenade, a Cherry mobile phoneÂ , a voters ID, including the marked money inserted in the bundle given to him.
Upon interrogation, it was learned that Brigente was tasked to collect the money. Further investigation revealed the name of Renilo Sambaga, the alleged leader, who was waiting for him at the Balatayo residence in Cabawan district, this city, Operatives rushed to the area where they arrested the gang leader without resistance.
Police is investigating further on whether this is the same group which has victimized other contractors here,
The ChronicleÂ learned that for several instances, contractors in the province have succumb to demand letters from the extortion gang over the past several years which started during the time when the New People’s Army (NPA) was active in the province.,
A contractor who requested not to be identified confided toÂ The ChronicleÂ that they have been giving cash to the group for fear that their equipment in the field will be burned as what happened to a contractor based in Sagbayan town several years ago.
The same contractor recalled that they used to ride in motorcycles to deliver their money to the NPAs in designated secluded meeting places. The owners of the construction firm themselves were asked to deliver the money. In fact, some designated “meeting places” were in some convents in the province. It was not known on whether the rebels’ purpose in coming to the convents were known by the parish priests who may just accommodate whoever would go to their convents.
Those collected from the contractors were termed as revolutionary taxes imposed by the underground movement. After the NPA operations were seized in the province, the contractor said extortion operations continued. However, Â they thought they could no longer confirm whether the collection was still in line with the NPA’s revolutionary tax or just plain and simple extortion.
Police will issue its findings of the probe tomorrow as the gang leader Sambaga was brought to the temporary lock-up jail at the Bohol Police Provincial office in Camp Dagohoy., this city. Brigente is still at the hospital after sustaining gunshot wound in his leg.
The duo will be charged tomorrow for violation of RA 9516.