By JOEY NACALABAN and NITZ ARANCON
THE Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) yesterday pressed charges against seven suspected members of an extortion syndicate that attempted to victimize Mayor Oscar Moreno.
The suspects offered to troubleshoot for Moreno so his eldest son Sean would no longer suffer behind bars in exchange for P1.5 million.
The younger Moreno, 43, was arrested along with a group during a buy-and-bust operation in Angeles City, Pampanga this June 30. He and the other suspects were charged with possession and selling party drugs and other illegal substances.
According to Mayor Moreno, the group first asked for P1.5 million, and later lowered it to P1.3 million.
Lt. Col. Reymund Leguden, head of the CIDG in the region, said the suspects were charged with robbery-extortion before the City Prosecutor’s Office.
He identified the suspects as Ryan Mabborang, 30, and Mark Adrian Tan, 36, of North Cotabato;
Thong Pangandigan, 43, Mohaimin Ulimpaen, 24, Wilma Pangandigan, 43, Sadam Taliba, 26; and Donna Bansil, 27, all of Maguindanao.
One of the suspects, Wilma Pangandigan, turned out to be a local government employee in Maguindanao, said Leguden.
Moreno told a news conference that Maborrang called him through his cellphone and introduced himself as one “Colonel Sifuentes” who was supposedly among those who arrested the mayor’s son.
“Miingon dayon siya (Maborrang) kanako nga kauban niya ang mga opisyales sa pulis nga nagdakop sa iyang anak,” said Moreno, adding that the suspect then offered a quick fix to Sean’s case in exchange for money.
Moreno said he brought the matter to the attention of the police and soon, the CIDG carried out an entrapment opertation at Limketkai mall where five of the seven suspects were arrested on Thursday.
Leguden said two more suspects — Mabborang and Tan — were arrested in a follow-up operation in Sumilao, Bukidnon, hours later.
Police said they used what was made to look as cold cash to outsmart the suspects during the entrapment.
“Two thousand pesos ra ang tino-od nga kuwarta kay ‘bodol money’ man ang atong gi-gamit sa atong entrapment operation,” said Leguden.
It was only after the suspects’ arrest that the police managed to identify Mabborang as the man who called up Moreno. Police said Mabborang served as the leader of the so-called Pat Villacorte crime group.
“Salamat sa CIDG. Imbis nag-atobang pa kitaug problema, ila (suspects) pang gidugangan,” Moreno said.