3 LTO Bicol operatives arrested for extortion in NBI entrapment
by MS Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY (21 September) -- Three officers of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Bicol manning a check point in Cabid-an, Sorsogon City were arrested for robbery extortion by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) during an entrapment operation conducted on Wednesday evening, Sept. 19.
Arrested in the entrapment operation were Delfin de Castro y Vargas, LTO officer and team leader, and team members Amado Belleca y Villena and Antonio Estrellado y Erlano.
Atty. Tomas C. Enrile, agent-in-charge of the NBI Legazpi district office, said that the operation was prompted by numerous complaints of alleged extortion on buses, cargo trucks and motorcycles that passed the LTO check point.
The LTO checkpoint in Barangay Cabid-an in Sorsogon City was particularly identified by the complainants, where vehicles were flagged down and in the course of inspection the LTO officers would demand amounts ranging from P25 to P100 per vehicle.
Enrile said that video surveillance conducted by the NBI on said check point confirmed the illegal operation. "Video footages of the investigation showed that personnel of said LTO unit were engaged in collecting money for 24 hours without let-up from buses, trucks, and motorcycles before they were allowed to pass through."
The three members of the LTO Cabid-an team were disarmed and arrested at 9 p.m. last Wednesday in an entrapment operation conducted by the NBI in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP), the Sorsogon Police Provincial Office and the Sorsogon City police station.
Enrile said the suspects were found positive for flourescent powder from the marked money received from complainants George Bancas and Santi Lico, both residents of Kidapawan, Cotabato,who for sometime have been traveling through Bicol as truckers.
Said operation was recorded on video by the NBI and a television news crew from one of the major national networks.
The suspected LTO mulcters were brought for inquest proceedings at the Sorsogon City Prosecution Office for charges of robbery and violation of the Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Enrile said. (PIA Albay) [top]