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Masbate Maritime cops turned extortionists arrested

Kristina Maralit

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Two senior officers, including a police major, in Masbate City were collared over allegations of robbery-extortion, the Philippine National Police-Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (PNP-IMEG) disclosed.

In his report to PNP chief PGen. Archie Gamboa submitted Sunday night, PBGen. Ronald Lee, IMEG director, identified the rogue cops as PMaj. John Murray Cutaran, chief of the 502nd Maritime Police Station based in Masbate City and SSgt. Rommel Naval.

Cutaran and Naval were cornered by operatives of the PNP’s anti-scalawag unit on the morning of 12 July right inside the police station situated at the Pier Site in Barangay Bapor, Masbate City after being accused by a vessel operator that they demanded a huge amount of money for the release of his fishing that was impounded for alleged illegal fishing activities in the area.

According to Lee, the fishing boat operator sought IMEG’s assistance to arrest the two policemen who demanded a huge amount of money for the release of fishing boat that was imposed for supposed illegal fishing activities in the area.

IMEG quickly formed an arresting team, including undercover operatives from its Luzon and Visayas field units, and travelled with the complainant from Bantayan Island in Cebu to Masbate City to effect the arrest.

Members of the 95th Special Action Company of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), Police Regional Office 5 Regional Mobile Force Battalion and Regional Intelligence Division, and the Masbate Police Provincial Office also acted as support forces during the entrapment operation.

The operator met with Cutaran and Naval at the police station where they were later cuffed and disarmed after receiving the P200,000 handed by the complainant.

Cutaran and Naval’s other cohorts, identified as PLt. Melencio Huela and PSSgt. Ronald Puerto, meanwhile, are still being tracked down by IMEG.

“We are encouraging the owners and operators of the fishing vessels who are victims of extortion in the entire country to report to PNP-IMEG.” Lee said.

IMEG’s preliminary investigation yielded that the maritime policemen intercepted F/B RAV and arrested its skipper Juquin Nemeno and his 28 crew members for allegedly fishing illegally in the area.

The rogue cops later contacted the fishing boat’s owner who is based in Bantayan Island initially demanded P400,000 in exchange for the release of his fishing vessel and employees.

The suspects are now at the Masbate Provincial Police Office where criminal and administrative charges are being readied against them.

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