TWO men accused of extorting money from Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri were arrested by agents of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in a series of operations in Zambales last week, PNP-CIDG director, Brigadier General Ronald O. Lee announced on Wednesday.
“We have arrested the suspects following a request personally made by Senate President Zubiri to PNP chief, General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. to identify and arrest a group of extortionists using the names of several politicians to extort money from him,” said the PNP-CIDG chief.
Lee identified the arrested suspects as Bryan Reyes Ledesma, a 23-year old online seller and Danilo Guillermo Ledesma,46, farmer, both residents of Purok 5, Villa Gracia, Barangay San Pablo in Castillejos, Zambales.
The official said officers from the CIDG National Capital Region Field Unit and the CIDG Southern District Field Unit, in coordination with the Castillejos Municipal Police Station arrested the suspects last Monday.
Recovered from the suspects were the marked money, a mobile phone they used in making contact with the office of Senator Zubiri and identification cards.
The elder suspect also yielded a caliber .45 pistol with a magazine containing seven live ammunition.
Lee said that prior to the conduct of the sting, Zubiri sought the assistance of Azurin in investigating a group of persons who have sent him a several messages while identifying themselves as Siquijor Governor Jec Jec Villa and Board Member Abner Lomongo.
The suspects demanded P50,000 in financial assistance from Zubiri to help fund their supposed political convention.
However, the Senate president sensed something was wrong when the suspects continued to pester him with their text messages asking him P50,000 for their alleged convention.
The suspects also agreed to personally meet the senator’s staff in Zambales prompting Zubiri to seek Azurin’s assistance in arresting the alleged bogus politicians-cum-extortionists.
Lee said that they have also identified one Kenneth Reyes Ledesma and a certain Sarah Arciaga Contreras as the alleged cohorts of the two arrested suspects. Both are still being hunted as of press time.
He added that a background investigation showed that Danilo Ledesma was previously arested for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in Castillejos in May 2021.
This time, the suspects are facing charges for robbery-extortion under Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code and Article 177 of the RPC or usurpation of authority.
A separate case for violation of RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearm and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 was also filed against Danilo Ledesma after it turned out that the firearm seized from his possession was an unlicensed gun.
The charges were filed before the Olongapo City Prosecutor’s Office.