General Archie Gamboa, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said on Tuesday, July 14, that a full investigation would be conducted in connection with a robbery extortion complaint filed against two Maritime police officers in Masbate by the PNP Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (IMEG).
Gamboa said the demand for an investigation was called after he received two versions about the case. The IMEG version where two Maritime police officers were caught receiving P200,000 they extorted from the operator of a fishing vessel impounded for involvement in alleged illegal fishing activities in Masbate.
The second version, from the arrested Maritime policemen, who said that entrapment operation was a set up staged by the IMEG to pin them down in response to a complaint from the owner of the fishing vessel, which the Maritime police apprehended for illegal fishing practices.
Gamboa,in a press conference at Camp Gen. Simeon Ola in Legazpi City, said “since I received information from both parties, therefore I set a 15 days investigation for both parties to come up with results”
He assured that the investigation would be fair and in the course of the 15 days investigation, this would determine whether there was a culpability on the part of the Maritime group or there were flaws in the entrapment procedure initiated by the IMEG.
As to whether there are alleged influential people behind the entrapment, Gamboa said “in our internal cleansing process there are no “godfathers.” If the IMEG report proved that there was indeed bribery during the entrapment, it would be immaterial naming people behind the incident so these are the things I will have to weigh. It’s good that this has come out into open so I can arrive at a right decision.”
The two Maritime police officers facing a robbery-extortion complaint are PMaj. John Murray Cuturan, the provincial officer and Staff Sgt. Romel Naval, an investigator, both of the 502nd Maritime Police based in Masbate City.
The two suspects were arrested in an entrapment operation initiated by members of the IMEG on Sunday (July 12) morning in Masbate City.
The entrapment operation was conducted inside the Maritime Police office located at Pier Site in Barangay Bapor, Masbate City at about 8:25 AM Sunday.
The IMEG report said the Maritime policemen intercepted F/B RAV and arrested its skipper Joaquin Nemeno and his 28 crew members.
The report said that the suspects contacted the fishing boat owner based in Bantayan Island in Cebu province and initially demanded P400,000 in exchange for the release of his fishing vessel and employees.
The suspects were arrested due to a complaint filed by Donato Villaceran, a resident of San Remigio in Cebu province.
Villaceran, the fishing boat operator sought the help of the IMEG to arrest the Maritime policemen.