Arrest order vs ‘cleared’ cops in GenSan investment scam recalled

Police personnel stand in formation in front of the main building of the General Santos City Police Office in Camp Fermin Lira (Photo courtesy of the city police)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Regional Trial Court (RTC) here has recalled a warrant of arrest issued last week against a retired police officer and five other active personnel who were implicated in a nearly PHP2-billion investment scam in 2019.

Lawyer Nena Santos, counsel for two of the accused, said Wednesday RTC Branch 59 Judge Renato Tampac ordered the move in line with a pending motion from the camp of the concerned personalities.

In an order issued last Monday, Tampac ordered the City Prosecutor’s Office to comment within 10 days regarding the motion filed by the accused.

Santos earlier questioned the warrant of arrest issued on Sept. 21 by RTC Branch 59 against retired Col. Raul Supiter and other police officers since they were already cleared from the case by the courts.

The arrest warrant, which named 10 respondents, was for swindling (estafa) and syndicated estafa or violation of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Presidential Decree 1689. No bail bond was recommended for the respondents.

The other cleared police personnel included in the warrant are Lt. Col. Henry Biñas, Master Sergeants Ernie and Cheryl Semino, and Corporals Daisy Babe Javierto and Elizabeth Isidro.

Santos, who represents Supiter and Biñas, said there was negligence on the part of the assigned prosecutor regarding the handling of the case that resulted in the issuance of the arrest warrant.

She said the dismissal of the cases involving some of the respondents was not included in the information endorsed to the court.

“The motion to amend the information and the amended information is defective, considering the case against retired Col. Supiter and the other policeman was already dismissed,” she said in an interview.

Lawyer Alvin Lamata, acting city prosecutor, junked the complaints against the accused in separate omnibus resolutions issued in August and September last year due to the lack of “probable cause” and “insufficient evidence.”

Cleared were Col. Manuel Lukban, former Police Regional Office (PRO)-12 directorial staff chief; Supiter, the former city police director; Lt. Col. Henry Biñas, former deputy city police director for administration; Maj. Patrich Elma; and, nine other non-commissioned and non-uniformed personnel.

The prosecution initially granted on Aug. 10, 2020, the motion for reconsideration and dismissal of the charges filed by Supiter, Biñas, and co-accused Master Sergeants Ernie and Cheryl Semino, Cpl. Daisy Babe Javierto, and Elizabeth Isidro.

On Sept. 30, 2020 it also issued the same resolution for the cases of Lukban, Elma, Rodelyn Bombita, Cpl. Precious Gay Pilones, Wiena Dablo, Rowena Muyga, and Liza Jane Prieto.

As cited in the motions, Lamata said there could have been no probable cause to indict the respondents for syndicated estafa considering that their participation in the crime was not specifically stated in the complaints.

The police officials and personnel were accused to have conspired and backed the operations of the defunct investment scheme PlanProMatrix/Pulis Paluwagan Movement (PPM), which reportedly victimized hundreds of police personnel and civilians in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

PPM was reportedly started by its alleged founder Mark George Naval in the city in late 2018 and rapidly expanded to other areas until its collapse in February last year.

Most of its recruits were policemen, who were lured into investing their money for interests of up to 120 percent a month. (PNA)

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