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Did mayor coddle Kapa founder?

Kristina Maralit



Following the arrest of Kapa Community Ministry International founder Joel Apolinario, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has now included the mayor of Lingig, Surigao del Sur in its investigation as he is suspected of coddling the notorious leader while being hunted for syndicated estafa.

According to Police Regional Office 13 (PRO-13) director PBGen. Joselito Esquivel, the secluded resort in Sitio Dahican, Barangay Handamayan in Lingig where operatives of the Special Action Forces (SAF) were able to track and corner Apolinario on Tuesday was either rented out or sold by Mayor Roberto Luna Jr. to Apolinario to serve as his hideout.

“Reportedly, the property was bought from or being rented from the mayor of Lingig. We are now investigating the mayor of Lingig. Why did he allow the presence of so many armed men? You are the mayor, and yet to sold or leased the property,” Esquivel said in a radio interview.

He added that he had already asked the mayor to meet with him to air his side, while Luna has yet to issue his statement regarding the matter.

Apolinario was ordered arrested by President Rodrigo Duterte after his “pyramiding scheme” reportedly duped billions of pesos from thousands of investors, mostly from Mindanao.

Local police forces were finally able track down and cuff Apolinario last Tuesday after months of being off the grid.

The arrested Kapa founder and his security men purportedly opened fire at the SAF operatives and other local police officers who were there to serve the arrest and search warrants issued by Judge Gil Bollozos of the Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC) and Judge Shineta Tare-Palacio of the Surigao del Sur RTC.

The arresting team was forced to fire back, resulting in the killing of two of Apolinario’s security men and the wounding of another, and discovered multiple high-powered firearms including 30 M16 rifles, two rocket propelled grenade launchers, a .50 caliber sniper rifle, several rifles, short firearms and several rounds of live ammunitions in the possession of the group.

Meanwhile, a lawyer yesterday urged the government to charge Apolinario under the newly approved Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 for their alleged multi-billion illegal investment scam which could have funded the recruitment of a private armed group to fight law enforcement agents.

Lawyer Rexie Bugaring, Moro National Liberation Front senior legal adviser, told the Daily Tribune that KAPA’s pyramiding activities targeting thousands of ordinary people and recruiting mercenaries, compiling an armory of high-powered firearms and explosives to fight law enforcement agents qualify them as a rebel organization.

“This a precedent case for newly-approved anti-terror law,” Bugaring said, referring to Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 which took effect last Saturday.