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Relatives implicate 2 cops in abduction of e-sabong agent

At least two policemen were implicated by four relatives of a missing online sabong "master agent" in an alleged abduction case which happened in Laguna in August last year.

During the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee’s third hearing on the disappearances of around 34 e-sabong enthusiasts, Ricardo “Jonjon” Lasco’s wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and cousin-in-law, who were all present when the alleged abduction happened, attended the investigation to share their first-hand information on the case.

According to Lasco’s wife, Princess, her husband was scheduled to return to Metro Manila on August 30, 2021 for his real estate work but while he was spending time in their residence, a group of unidentified men, who introduced themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, barged into their house.

She said the “NBI agents” were wearing black clothes and presented a warrant of arrest for Lasco’s alleged involvement in a large-scale estafa. However, they refused to furnish them a copy of the said warrant.

Apart from arresting Lasco, Princess said the group also took their jewelry, money, cellphones, and a vault containing money.

They tried to get back their cellphones from the group of men so they could follow Lasco after his arrest but failed.

Princess' statement was corroborated by her cousin, Honey Lyn Sason, who was the first one to identify patrolman Roy Navarette as the person who took their valuables from the rooms.

Princess’ mother, Gilda, and sister, Elaine Sara, named the same person in their testimonies.

Aside from Navarette, Princess said they were also able to identify staff sergeant Daryl Paghangaan as the "NBI agent" who served the warrant through his body shape and build.

“Nung pinakita po sa akin ‘yung picture naituro ko tapos nu’ng pinakita ko sa kanila, lahat sila kinabahan kahit yung kapatid ko umiiyak. Kaya po sabi ko bakit pare-pareha kami,” Princess said.

Both Navarette and Paghangaan, members of the Laguna police intelligence division, have denied involvement in the alleged abduction.

On August 30, 2021, Navarette said he was assigned to patrol around Laguna along with other policemen to inspect various checkpoint areas. He said he has pieces of evidence to support his defense.

However, Senate President Vicente Sotto III questioned Navarette’s testimony when the policeman checked his phone while answering questions on his whereabouts.

Sotto then asked Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Director Eliseo Cruz to verify Navarette’s assignment on that day.

Meanwhile, Paghangaan said he was in Pila, Laguna to deliver soap to his clients. He said his text messages could prove that he was not involved in the operations against Lasco.

After giving their testimonies, Princess appealed to the public to inform her about Lasco’s whereabouts.

“Maituro lang po sana kung saan nilagay sir...maituro lang po sana…kung san dinala. ‘Yun na lang po para matapos na tayo. Ituro niyo na lang para at least may closure sobrang hirap nitong pinagdadaanan namin… Alam ko na may nakakaalam nito. Sige na po,” Princess said before the senators.

(At least give us the whereabouts of my husband so we could give closure to this case. I know someone knows about his whereabouts.)

“Tapos ngayon hindi namin alam kung ano mangyayari after this ‘yung security po ba kailangan namin? Ordinaryong tao lang po kami ang hirap po lumabas ng bahay na hindi mo alam na delikado kayo. Kanino kami dapat mag-ingat, senator?” she added.

(We are also afraid of what might happen after this. Do we need security? We are just ordinary people and now we are afraid to go out because it might put our lives at risk.)

Dela Rosa consoled Princess, saying they could be covered by the Witness Protection Program.

Meanwhile, Sotto said he will order the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to provide security to her family until they resolve the case.

Lasco’s mother, Carmelita also expressed her grief during the Senate hearing, noting that cockfighting is not his son’s main source of income.

“Ang masasabi ko sa mga taong kumuha sa aking anak, napakalupit niyo. Wala kayong puso…Handa kami, kahit ibigay namin ang kabuhayan basta mabalik ang aking anak na buhay pero wala lahat kinuha niyo,” Carmelita said.

According to the CIDG, investigators are preparing to file appropriate charges against five policemen before the Department of Justice in relation to Lasco’s case.

Currently, they are gathering physical and circumstantial evidence that will support the testimonies of the witnesses.

PNP chief Dionardo Carlos told Dela Rosa that the policemen involved will be transferred to Camp Crame in Quezon City for them “to be available for further investigation of the CIDG.”

Right now, Dela Rosa, a former PNP chief, explained that the cops who were implicated in Lasco’s case could no longer be subjected to inquest or arrested months after the said incident.—LDF, GMA News