Ombudsman Mindanao issues warning vs Bantay-Bayan
by Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob
Cagayan de Oro City (20 September) -- A stern warning against the illegal operations of an organization called "Bantay Bayan" (BB) has been issued by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for Mindanao to the public.
This, after the OMB found out that BB has been falsely and illegally using it name in the latter's various "money-making" operations, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Humphrey Monteroso said.
"We want to clarify that we have never authorized BB to work for us. Thus, we have closed their office in Zamboanga City and similar moves will be done in other BB offices in the island, such as those in Basilan and Jolo," he said.
Monteroso said the OMB investigation conducted Sept. 4-6, this year, revealed that the group has been going around collecting fees for membership, monthly dues, identification cards, mission orders or memorandum receipts (MO/MR) for firearms and for other services.
"What we found out is that they have been collecting a registration fee of Php250, another Php250 for an ID, Php100 as monthly dues and amounts ranging from Php500-1,000 for an MO/MR to be allowed to carry firearms," he said.
The ID cards and MO/MRs are then used in military checkpoints to avoid being subjected to inspection by their holders/bearers.
Citing one (1) case, Monteroso said the BB has approached an individual and asked for Php5,000 as mobilization fund to help him with his problem at the OMB, only to ask for another Php20,000 for its closure which was all in vain.
The Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao said their recent raid on the BB office in Zamboanga City also revealed the enormous number of printed IDs bearing the name of the organization and the OMB, Presidential Task Force Security Group T-shirts and other paraphernalia purporting the deceptions made by BB on hapless civilians they have wrongly use as milking cows of their illegal trade.
Meanwhile, Monteroso said they are now preparing to file in court cases ranging from usurpation of authority, misrepresentation, misleading the public, estafa, etc. against Plinky Domingo, the known leader of the BB who is now in jail.
"Thus, the OMB is urging the public to avoid being victimized by Banty Bayan Foundation Inc. and to report to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the nearest Philippine National Police (PNP) station any info about their activities, Monteroso added. (PIA 10) [top]