By NITZ ARANCON
and JOEY NACALABAN
POLICE yesterday pressed charges against Chief Insp. Rolando Rigat and three of his men in the Highway Patrol Group who were arrested during an anti-extortion entrapment in Iligan City on Wednesday evening.
Iligan police director Senior Supt. Leony Roy Ga said Rigat, head of the HPG in Iligan, SPO2 Crisanto Bernardo and HPG auxiliaries Mac Harvey Abad and Sidney Cañete were charged with robbery with extortion before the local prosecutor’s office.
Ga said Rigat, whose police rank is equivalent to a major, and SPO2 Bernardo were also administratively charged with grave misconduct before the police’s Regional Internal Affairs Services at Camp Alagar. They are also facing charges for violation of the anti-graft law.
Ga said the suspects were disarmed and their firearms were turned over to the HPG in Iligan City.
The suspects were detained at the Police Station 4 in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
Authorities said the officers could end up being dismissed from the service if proven guilty.
Rigat and his group were arrested during an entraptment conducted by the Counter Intelligence Task Force and the Iligan City Police Office.
Ga said Rigat yielded a marked money amounting to P3,000, and P5,000 more from his drawer.
The entrapment was organized after a businessman complained that a HPG group allegedly asked money from the him along Macapagal highway in Iligan.
Police said similar complaints about a string of extortion activities on the highway have been reported.
According to Ga, Rigat’s group allegedly asked money from the businessman who was apprehended for driving a vehicle without license plates. He said the businessman was asked to deliver the money to Rigat’s office, allowing authorities to organize an entrapment.
Ga said he was saddened because “despite the stringent efforts of the Philippine National Police to cleanse its ranks of all forms of corruption and other illegal activities, still, there remains a handful of personnel who have chosen to remain in their old ways.”
Ga said Rigat and his group brought “indignity and shame” to the police organization.
Police regional director Chief Supt. Timoteo Pacleb said the arrest of Rigat and his men should serve as a warning to other police officers who have been involved in illegal activities.
“I would like to remind all PNP personnel under the Police Regional Office-10 about true public service with utmost dedication, transparency, and honesty,” Pacleb said.
Camp Alagar spokesman Supt. Lemuel Gonda said the arrest of Rigat’s group sent a message that Camp Alagar is intolerant of police scalawags.