Police authorities here warn local businessmen against falling prey to extortionists – claiming as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The police alert came out following reports from businessmen who were contacted by a man who demanded from them the amount of P150,000.00 as an aid to the communist revolutionary movement.
Reports reaching the Chronicle revealed that no less than 38 businessmen in the province have received extortion messages through their cellular phones, according to a separate report from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The would be victims vary from big-time contractors and other businessmen, mostly based in the city to professionals like doctors, architects, engineers and lawyers.
Earlier this week, the man posing as a member of the NPA, who identified himself as “Kumander Tesoro” had successfully extorted P20,000.00 from a Tagbilaran-based businessman.
The victim, Ulysses Arado, 51, said that while he was in Tubigon at 3 p.m. on Friday, a man who claimed to be the new leader of the NPA in Bohol called him on his cellphone and asked for three “baby Armalites” worth P150,000.
Arado felt threatened when the caller remarked on the safety of his family and that members of the NPA were at his store in Barangay Cogon, Tagbilaran City. Because of this, Arado told the unidentified caller that he can only provide P20,000 and not the firearms worth P150,000.
The suspect then gave a tracking number to Arado who in turn directed his employee to send cash worth P20,000 to the Carmen branch of Palawan Express.
A businessman from Loon would also have fallen to the same extortion tactics had he not sought the assistance of Tagbilaran City Police Chief, PC/Supt. Patricio Degay on Wednesday.
PC/Supt. Degay bared that the businessman, whose identity the police chief did not reveal for security reasons, came to him through a fellow police officer after repeatedly receiving subtle threats and demands for financial aid from a man who affiliates himself with the NPA.
Accordingly, the suspect also asked P150,000 which the NPA would supposedly use to purchase firearms and a motorcycle.
Incidentally, however, while PC/Supt. Degay and the businessman were talking at the office of the police chief, the suspect called the businessman. This time, it was PC/Supt. Degay who answered the call and pretended to be the businessman.
During their conversation, the suspect again demanded P150,000 to which the city police chief said he could not produce the amount on such short notice but bargained for a lower amount of P30,000.
The unidentified caller agreed but gave two hours for the amount to be sent through a transaction number via Palawan Pawnshop.
PC/Supt. Degay further played the businessman’s role by asking the suspect that they should meet at an agreed place so he could personally hand over the money instead of sending it through the pawnshop’s cash transfer service. The suspect agreed and left instructions that he will arrange for the businessman to be picked up in two hours.
When asked for his name, the caller identified himself as “Kumander Tesoro”. However, when the police chief attempted to further elicit information, the caller hung up.
After the call was terminated PC/Supt. Degay instructed the businessman to disregard succeeding calls and messages of the suspect as it was clearly a hoax.
PC/Supt. Degay warned the public and local businessmen not to fall for similar extortion schemes by unscrupulous individuals who may just be posing as a member of the NPA.
According to the police chief, based on experiences and other reported extortion activities perpetrated by the NPA in other provinces, the reported extortion incidents here are not likely the doing of the communist guerrillas who have a different modus operandi.
PC/Supt Degay warned the public to be wary of such extortion schemes and urges to immediately report these to authorities.
Based on the police investigation of the case of Arado, a man who identified himself as Raul S. Camba of Carmen immediately claimed the amount deposited by Arado’s employee.
According to Arado, the suspect called again at around 10 a.m. on Monday, but he did not answer.
Two hours later, another call was made by the suspect, but this time to Arado’s office.
Police authorities admitted that it would be difficult to trace the suspect who extorted money from Arado particularly if the caller used a cell phone and the SIM card of which was immediately disposed after the amount was collected.
In July, another suspect who claimed to be with the NPA asked for money from three barangay captains in Baclayon through calls and texts.
The village chiefs contacted by the suspect were identified as Orcesia Israel of Barangay Payahan, Divina Cabahug of Barangay San Isidro and Romulo Caballo of Barangay San Vicente.
According to Cabahug, the suspect called her at 10 a.m. on May 26 telling her that four paid men from Mindanao were out to kill her if the money was not given to them.
Cabahug then reported the incident to police out of fear.
However, none of the text messages were proven to have been from the NPA.
Several instances of scammers using the rebel group’s name to extort money from unsuspecting victims have already been reported in the past while the military has maintained that the province of Bohol is still insurgency-free.(With reports from Allen Doydora and Weli Maestrado)