By Jonathan Hicap
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in Muntinlupa has filed charges of robbery against a member of the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) for allegedly stealing church fund worth P208,000 from the Chaplaincy Office.
Prison Guard I Peter Cyroe Tabajonda of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) filed on July 6 the complaint of robbery in an inhabited house or public edifice devoted to worship before the Muntinlupa Office of the City Prosecutor against Sgt. Roger Opong of SAF, which has been securing the prison facility.
In his affidavit, Tabajonda said on March 29 this year, the BuCor Operation Center called the NBP Superintendent’s Office to request an investigator to go to the Chaplaincy Office at the NBP maximum security compound regarding a robbery incident.
Before the call, Prison Guard I Luzminda Nieves and food service supervisor Leila Reonal reported that when they went to the Chaplaincy Office, they saw that it was in disarray and the 32-inch Sony Bravia TV and church fund kept in a safety box were missing.
After one-and-a-half months, prisoner Rommel Laciste, confined at the NBP medium security compound, submitted an affidavit on May 17 to BuCor stating that he has personal knowledge of the robbery.
According to Tabajonda, Laciste said that at about 12 a.m. on March 29, he and Opong, who wore a SAF uniform, conducted search operations at the NBP Chaplaincy Office based on information from a prisoner at Dormitory 12B that shabu weighing 2 kilos was inside the safety box in the office of Msgr. Roberto Olaguer.
“Upon reaching the area, Sgt. Opong together with another SAF member saw the safety box and forcibly opened it but found no illegal drugs inside, instead found a box containing money and plastic bag containing coins,” according to Tabajonda’s affidavit.
Tabajonda said “the money was taken by Sgt. Opong and was divided into two before putting it in his pocket, while the coins were put into a trash can.”
He added the SAF troopers also removed the TV set from the wall and covered it with a pillow case. At 2 a.m. “they went outside the Catholic Church and were fetched by the other SAF [members] using their vehicle.”
Laciste was dropped off by SAF at the Security Patrol Unit office while the troops went outside the NBP maximum security compound through Gate 4.
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