Tip leads to arrest of seven alleged kidnappers in Laguna

By Marlon Ramos
Last updated 07:59pm (Mla time) 07/25/2007

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna, Philippines — Seven suspected members of a kidnap syndicate were arrested after a brief chase with policemen in Victoria, Laguna on Tuesday afternoon, police said Wednesday.


Senior Superintendent Felipe Rojas, Laguna police director, said the arrested men belonged to the Asuncion gang, a splinter group of the Egay Alvarez kidnap syndicate.


Rojas claimed the group is known to prey on businessmen and foreign nationals in Laguna, Cavite, Batangas, Quezon and Metro Manila.

Arrested were Arnel Nicopior, 34; Wilfredo Lagrama, 50; Melbert Rafor, 28; Teddy Ribot, 36; Danilo Bandoy, 46; Rommel Asuncion, 21; and Rodel Asuncion y Inovero, 26.


Two other gang members, identified only as a certain Larry and Efren, eluded arresting police officers.


Rojas said police received a tip that the group was in the area to abduct a wealthy businesswoman from Los Baños town.


He said that before the suspects attempted to kidnap the lady trader, they stole a Nissan Urvan (XFS 461) from driver Norwin Cedillo in the village of Batong Malake, Los Baños.


Rojas said Cedillo immediately alerted the local police who quickly set up a checkpoint along the national highway in Los Baños.


Upon reaching the area at around 4 p.m., the suspects avoided the checkpoint, prompting the policemen, led by Superintendent Mafelino Bazar, intelligence chief of the Laguna police, to chase them.


The policemen eventually caught the suspects in a grassy area in the village of San Francisco in Victoria town at around 5:30 p.m.


“The suspects did not resist [nor fired a shot] at my men because they knew they were overpowered,” Rojas said.


Rojas said they confiscated .22 cal. Magnum pistol, a 45 cal. pistol, one homemade 12-gauge shotgun, a fragmentation grenade, and personal belongings of the suspects.


Police also recovered the carjacked vehicle and another Hyundai Grace van (XDV 833) from the suspects.


Rojas said before abducting their subjects, the arrested men were known to identify themselves as policemen.


He said just last month, the suspects seized a Pakistani national in Makati City. They eventually released the foreigner after a still undetermined ransom was paid.


(UPDATE) Power returns to areas hit by blackout

By Thea Alberto
Last updated 06:07pm (Mla time) 07/25/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Power has been restored in three Metro Manila districts and at least two towns south of the capital, an official of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) said Wednesday.


Alex Evangelista of the Meralco operations center said power was restored around 4:40 p.m. in Manila’s Malate district, San Francisco Del Monte in Quezon City, and the Ayala-Alabang business district in Muntinlupa City.


Power also returned to Sta. Rosa town in Laguna, and Bacoor town, in Cavite province, he said.


Evangelista said maintenance operation by the National Power Corporation caused the blackouts, which began at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Cops uncover ‘shabu’ lab on Mindoro

By Marlon Ramos
Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 05:36pm (Mla time) 07/21/2007

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna — Anti-narcotics agents and members of the Mindoro Oriental provincial police office swooped down at dawn Saturday on a suspected “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratory in the middle of a fishpond in Calapan City and confiscated chemicals which could produce P2.1 billion worth of the illegal drug also known as “ice.”


Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz, Oriental Mindoro police director, said his men and personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided the makeshift factory in Barangay Navotas at around 5:30 a.m.


He said the operation was covered by a search warrant issued by Calapan Regional Trial Court Judge Tomas Leynes.


Two suspected operators of the illegal drug manufacturing unit were able to escape using a motorized boat before authorities entered the area. Recovered from the place were seven drums of ephedrine which police said could produce more than 700 kilograms of shabu.


Also confiscated were 18 boxes of hydrochloric acid, 10 boxes of carbon chemical and other ingredients used in manufacturing shabu, also known as the “poor man’s cocaine.”


Police also confiscated a big generator and other electrical equipment.


Cruz said they received information about the operation of the shabu lab almost two months ago.


“We believe that the syndicate behind this was able to fully operate just after the May 14 elections,” he said in a mobile phone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.


He said to avoid any legal impediments, they patiently conducted surveillance operations to identify the operators of the shabu factory.


“We were then able to pinpoint at least three Chinese nationals who were seen frequenting the area,” he said. Cruz said despite its location, the shabu factory had sophisticated security equipment, including a surveillance camera.


“That’s why before we could even destroy the gate’s padlocks, the suspects have already boarded the boat and sped away,” he said.


Cruz said they are now tracing the other suspected members of the drug syndicate.


He said they will also investigate the owner of the fishpond which started to lease the area to the suspects last March.

4 of 5 ‘salvage’ victims in Batangas identified

By Marlon Ramos
Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 04:26pm (Mla time) 07/10/2007

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna — Police have identified four of the five alleged victims of summary executions who were dumped in separate villages in Tanauan City and Talisay, Batangas on Monday, police said Tuesday.


Senior Superintendent Prudencio Bañas, Batangas police director, also confirmed that they had actually recovered a sixth victim who was still alive when a team of local policemen arrived to check on a report that bodies had been found in Barangay (village) Balele in Tanauan City.


He identified the survivor as Winston Adrelin Torribio, a resident of Pasig City.


Superintendent Francisco Rodriguez, Tanauan police chief, said Torribio was still confined at the intensive care unit of a hospital somewhere in Batangas.


He said the victim had gunshot wounds on his head and right chest.


Rodriguez said they had placed the victim under their tight watch to ensure his safety while recuperating.


He said they have yet to talk to the victim.


“The victim is now in stable condition. He is slowly recovering. We’re certain that he could give light to what really happened to them and identify who wanted them killed,” Rodriguez said in a mobile phone interview.


The other body found near Torribio remained unidentified, Rodriguez said.

Meanwhile, Bañas said the body found from a vacant lot in Barangay Talaga, Tanauan City was that of Joseph Castro, 18, a resident of Barangay Sampiruhan, Calamba City.


The three bodies discovered along a narrow road in Barangay Aya in Talisay town were identified by their friends and relatives as Deo Celada, 18, Edison Barrientos, 22, both of Barangay Sampiruhan, and Jayvee Alvarez, 21, of Barangay Bañadero, Calamba City.


The four bodies had tattoos and piercing all over their bodies, said Bañas.


Bañas said the five apparently died from the bullet wounds on their heads.


He said while the killings of the victims who were residents of Calamba could have been the handiwork of a same group of suspects, there were no indications that the murders were related to the sly try on Torribio and the killing of the other victim.


All the six bodies were discovered at almost the same time by residents Monday dawn.


“We suspect that the dumping of the bodies of the victims from Calamba and those of the two other victims were just coincidence,” he said.


Bañas said they have yet to determine the motive in the killings.


Meanwhile, relatives of the victims from Calamba City asked Batangas police to speed up its investigation.


A cousin of Castro told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they have no idea who could be behind the murders. He said the victims have no known enemies from their neighborhood.


He said he last saw his cousin alive on Sunday night.


He said the victim told him that they would go to Tanauan to visit a friend.


“We were alarmed when we were told by some of our neighbors that my cousin and his companions failed to show up at the house of their friend. We were then told that they were already found dead in Batangas,” the victim’s cousin told the Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.

Cops cordon off alleged shabu lab in Laguna

Cops cordon off alleged shabu lab in Laguna
By Marlon Ramos
Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 01:41pm (Mla time) 07/09/2007

SAN PEDRO, Laguna — Local authorities and anti-narcotics agents have cordoned off a warehouse suspected to be used by a Taiwanese drug syndicate to manufacture shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) inside a subdivision here on Monday morning, police said.


Elements of the San Pedro municipal station and personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) have barricaded the bungalow warehouse inside the Amante Subdivision in Barangay (village) Nueva as early as 5 a.m., said Superintendent Sergio Dimandal, town police chief.


Dimandal said they were still waiting for the release of the search warrant from the local court for them to legally enter the establishment.


He said they received information that the place was being utilized as a shabu factory by a big drug syndicate.


“We don’t want to bungle our court case against the members of the drug syndicate that’s why we’re being careful not to be cited for mere technicalities,” Dimandal told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.


Superintendent Raul Bargamento, PDEA-Calabarzon chief, said the information about the shabu laboratory came from suspected drug lord Tony Tan Go, the Taiwanese national who supposedly ran the illegal drug factory in nearby Biñan town which was accidentally discovered by policemen last Friday.


Bargamento said Go was arrested on Sunday when he went back to the apartment he rented in Barangay San Antonio which he used to produce shabu.


“During interrogation, the Taiwanese national admitted that they also used this warehouse in their operations. But we still don’t have any idea what’s inside,” he said.


Police recovered hundreds of kilos of chemical precursor for shabu which could produce over one thousand kilos of the said illegal drugs worth over P4 billion from the apartment in Biñan.


The apartment unit is owned by an active police general assigned in Central Luzon, police said.


bossi.jpgBOSSI IN CAPTIVITY: The first photos of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi since his abduction on June 10 were sent to his best friend, Claretian priest Angel Calvo, in Zamboanga City through cell phone on Thursday. Calvo believes the photos were taken recently. Authorities also believe the photos are authentic.inquirer.net

Youth vote’ puts new graduate to town council

By Niña Catherine Calleja
Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 08:11am (Mla time) 06/21/2007

NAGCARLAN, Laguna — JC Lucido, 22, took an accountancy course in college and graduated with honors in March. But instead of applying for a job in a private company, he ran for councilor of Nagcarlan town in Laguna and won.


Proclaimed on May 17, Lucido placed second among the eight winning councilors.


It was the “youth vote” that swept him to victory in Nagcarlan, about 100 kilometers south of Manila. He had 7,676 votes from a voters’ turnout of 29,282 on May 14.


“The youth really moved for me,” Lucido admitted. His votes came almost equally from all the barangays.


Lucido said he knew the young people wanted to participate in the elections because during his campaigns and meetings, they were attending and listening attentively.


“It is good to feel that many people trust you,” he said.


Lucido said working for a public office was an extension of his extracurricular activities in school and in the community. It was just a wider scale of governance, he said.


Some of the incumbent councilors had asked Lucido to run in October last year.


“I had no plan to run. I told them I was graduating and I planned to work with the private sector afterwards,” he said.


But the councilors were persistent. “They told me the municipal government needed my idealism,” he said. For five years now, Lucido has been part of the council, having been elected president of the Sangguniang Kabataan.


“During those times, I (did not cling) to anyone, even to our mayor. Whenever we were in session, I (sided) with who I thought was right,” he said.


He said he was convinced to run because of his desire to serve.


Lucido headed the committee on appropriations. All budget and proposed programs of the council passed its scrutiny, he said.


“It was a difficult job. The councilors said I did it well so I knew I am capable of being a councilor,” he said.


Lucido said he spent about P50,000 for campaign materials, such as tarpaulins and banners. His strategy was to woo the votes of the youth and the women.


“Many people perceived a politician as someone who could give away money and material things,” he said.


Although some people felt bad when their request was denied, they tried hard not to shell out money.


“I still believe that the majority of the electorate is educated and discerning,” Lucido said.


In the past administration, Lucido saw a number of ordinances passed but not implemented. This may have reflected a misunderstanding between the mayor and the council members, he said.


He cited the ordinance on solid waste management that was never enforced.


One of the programs he wanted to introduce was a scholarship program for out-of-school youths in Nagcarlan.


Lucido also planned to create a youth development council in which youths, aside from the SK members, could actively participate in local governance. The council will include representatives from out-of-school youths in villages, he said.