THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday announced that the Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) arrested two fake DILG officials who namedropped officials of the agency in order to swindle and extort from local government officials in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año identified the arrested suspects as Natilyn Decipulo, 29 , former OFW, and one of her alleged accomplices,Richard Tacto, 45, who allegedly used the name of DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya to extort money from unsuspecting mayors and governors. They were arrested by CIDG operatives the other day in Dagupan City.
“The long arm of the law finally caught up with them, at gaya nga ng sinabi natin, we will bring these people to justice lalo pa at pangalan ng mga opisyal ng DILG ang kanilang ginagamit sa kanilang modus. Let this serve as a warning to all would-be criminals, we will find you wherever you maybe,” Año said.
A manhunt is currently underway to find the other members of this criminal syndicate known as the “Decipulo Criminal Group.”
Año said members of the Decipulo Group introduced themselves as DILG employees working under Malaya and “solicited” money from local chief executives purportedly in exchange for fixing the pending administrative cases filed against the victims.
Another modus of the group involves a poseur telling a mayor or governor that the DILG will donate cavans of rice to be distributed to their constituents who had been affected by recent calamities. In exchange, the local chief executive will have to send money for the cargo or delivery expenses of the supposed donation.
In both instances, the victims are asked to deposit the money to a remittance center or to a bank account of their choosing.
Año said police investigations later revealed that Decipulo Group was behind at least 20 extortion activities which have victimized governors or mayors in Luzon, Visayas, Caraga Region, and BARMM.
Decipulo was arrested during an entrapment operation while claiming the P72,000 that she allegedly extorted from Mayor Gerandy B. Danao of the Municipality of Narra, Palawan at a remittance center in the city.
This was after Mayor Danao alerted the DILG and the PNP that a certain “Regan Dela Cruz” who said that he was a staff of Malaya extorted money from him.
The arrest of Decipulo was made possible through the efforts of PNP-CIDG, PNP National Headquarters and its regional field offices in Pangasinan and Palawan.
Año congratulated the PNP-CIDG led by PMGen. Joel Coronel and PCol.Jay Dimaandal of the Anti-Organized Crime Unit and the PNP-CIDG for the arrest and filing of criminal cases against the suspects.
Decipulo is facing charges for robbery, extortion and violation of E-Commerce Act and was brought to CIDG-Dagupan Sub-Office SATT-2 for proper investigation.
PNP-CIDG Pangasinan Provincial Office Chief PLt Col. Jerry Corpuz said that Tacto, also a member of the Decipulo’s Group, is cooperating with authorities for the possible arrest of the other suspects.
“Nakikipagtulungan si Tacto sa amin para mabisto lahat ng miembro ng kanilang grupo. We are looking for the other suspects as we speak,” Corpuz said.
Malaya, whose name was used by the said con artists, asked all mayors who were victimized by the Decipulo Group to contact the DILG or the CIDG and file criminal cases against the suspects.
“I personally appeal to the mayors and governors who were victimized by these extortionists to inform us and file cases against them. Nakakalungkot na sa gitna ng pandemya ay nagagawa ng mga kawatan na ito na manloko. Kailangan pagbayaran nila ang kanilang kasalanan sa bayan,” Malaya said.
Malaya added the arrest of Decipulo Group is an assurance that the PNP is always on its toes but the people and local officials, who have been the latest targets, must also be wary and mindful of such modus.
The PNP-CIDG said Decipulo’s accomplices are still at large and being hunted by authorities. “Babala pa din po sa ating mga kababayan at kapwa lingkod-bayan na LCEs, nakakalaya pa din po ang mga kasamahan nitong si Decipulo kaya konting ingat pa din po,” said Malaya.
“Baka nagpapalamig lang ang mga iyon at matapos ang ilang buwan ay babalik na naman sa dating gawi. Hopefully, the PNP will have arrested them by that time,” he added.