AGENTS of the Philippine National Police - Counter-Intelligence Task Force on Friday night arrested a member of the Pampanga Police Provincial Office for alleged extortion.
PO1 Rosalio Varron Vanzuela, an investigator of the Mabalacat Municipal Police Station, was placed under arrest shortly after he received P15,000 in marked bills from a complainant in an entrapment operation inside a 7-Eleven Convenience Store located at the main gate of the Clark Freeport Zone.
PNP-CITF director Col. Romeo Caramat Jr. said that prior to the sting, they received a complaint that a certain “PO1Valenzuela” was demanding P15,000 from the driver of a vehicle who got involved in a vehicular accident which caused damage to a patrol car of the Mabalacat police.
It turned out that the complainant accidentally hit the police car early dawn last February 23. After being taken to the Mabalacat police station, the complainant said that his driver’s license was seized by the policeman who told him to pay up so that no charges would be filed against him.
The complainant said that he was initially asked to produce P10,000 for the supposed repair of the damaged patrol car, the amicable settlement to be made right inside the police station.
However, he said that he became suspicious when the investigator changed his mind and told him the amount should be P15,000 not P10,000 as they earlier agreed. The cop also changed the venue where the money would be given twice.
Caramat said that they were informed that the Mabalacat police investigator confiscated the driver’s license of the complainant and told him he will only return it once he has paid the P15,000 needed to repair the damaged police car.
During questioning, the accused officer claimed that the money was meant for the repair of the police car which was taken to a local shop. He denied that he was extorting money from the complainant.
However, the PNP-CITF said the patrol car involved is a government property covered insurance. Officials said the accused could have easily asked the complainant to help defray the other insurance cost without delaying the release of his driver’s license.
“We don’t tolerate any of this irregularity. No police investigator can confiscate the driver’s license of any person involved in a vehicular accident and tell the person he can only retrieve his license once he has paid him a certain amount,” said Caramat who ordered his men to check all the claims made by the arrested policeman.
Vanzuela is being held at the PNP-CITF detention facility in Camp Crame facing criminal charges for robbery-extortion. A separate administrative case for grave misconduct will also be filed against him.