TWO men led by a barangay official linked to the criminal activities of the dreaded Concepcion Crime Gang in Bicol region were arrested by combined agents of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Police Regional Office (PRO) 5 in separate anti-criminality raids in Libon, Albay on Saturday, a report to PNP chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said.
Suspects Gilbert Señadan, a 51-year-old incumbent ‘kagawad’ of Bgy. Malobago in Libon municipality and Ricky Llagas, 43, are now facing non-bailable charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives after officers recovered unlicensed guns and grenades in their respective houses.
Members of the PRO5 headed by Brigadier Gen. Jonnel C. Estomo and the CIDG Regional Field Unit 5 under Colonel Randy Glenn F. Silvio raided the suspects’ residence in Sitio Buga in Bgy. Malibago early morning Saturday on the strength of search warrants for violation of Republic Act (RA) 1059, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013, and RA 9516, or illegal possession of firearms, issued by Judge Edwin Ma-alat of the Ligao City Regional Trial Court Branch 14.
Llagas was arrested after a search of his house in Zone 1 in Sitio Buga led in the recovery of a caliber .45 pistol without serial numbers, a .45 magazine containing four live ammunition and a fragmentation grenade.
On the other hand, Señadan was placed under arrest after CIDG and PRO5 operatives found an unlicensed cal. .45 pistol with two magazines containing 12 live ammunition and a fragmentation grenade inside his residence.
Silvio said members of the CIDG Albay Provincial Field Unit, Regional Mobile Force Battalion 5 and Regional Special Operations Unit 5, Albay Police Provincial Office, Libon Municipal Police Station and the PNP Special Action Force’s 93rd and 95th Special Action Companies conducted the raids.
The official said the raids were witnessed by the respondents themselves and local barangay officials.
In a report to PNP-CIDG director Major Gen. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro, the Bicol CIDG chief said the two arrested suspects were monitored to be acting in cahoots with one Darwin Santiago, an active member of the Concepcion Criminal Group, and are helping provide food, weapons and PNP and military uniforms to the members of the gang.
The two suspects are now undergoing questioning at the CIDG Albay headquarters, the official said.
Estomo said that at present, they are hot on the trail of Gilbert Concepcion, the elusive leader of the gang which has gained notoriety for its involvement in gun-for-hire, robbery-extortion and illegal drug activities in Bicol region.
The official said the suspect who happened to be a former New People’s Army (NPA) rebel has been the target of a massive police operation since the early 2000.
Concepcion is so big an anti-criminality target in Bicol that the PRO5 has called on the support of the local populace in getting him by providing valuable information that would lead to the whereabouts of the fugitive from law who has been described as an ex-NPA rebel who surrendered to the government, joined the Army and later became a deserter who formed his own crime gang.
The suspect is said to be under the employ of some rogue local politicians who usually hire his service to “eliminate” their political rivals. The suspect has become a “major target” by the PRO5 as he had the temerity to even launch ambuscades on his pursuers.
Since 2013, members of the gang have been blamed for dozens of unsolved murder cases in Bicol specifically in Libon, Albay where they have been accused of attacking soldiers, policemen and local government officials as well as Makati City engineer Nelson Morales.
Last month, one heavily-armed member of the gang was killed in a gunbattle with local policemen in Libon, Albay. Suspect Ernany Maraño, a resident of Bgy. Libtong in Libon, died on the spot during the exchange of fire, said the Bicol police director. A caliber 9mm sub-machine gun with two magazines was recovered from the possession of the slain suspect.