MANILA, Philippines – Two women convicted of estafa and allegedly involved in an $80 million fraud in the United States fell into the hands of the police during separate operations in Metro Manila recently.
Marilyn Ong, 56, a businesswoman, was arrested in Alabang-Zapote Road in Muntinlupa City while Edna Alfuerto, 55, treasury manager of Stonework Co. was nabbed at her house in Barangay Teacher’s Village, Quezon City.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Alan Purisima said the two are now detained at the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) jail pending their turnover to the proper courts.
QCPD director Chief Superintendent Mario de la Vega said they launched an operation against the suspects after businessman Thomas Lim sought their help to implement an arrest warrant for violation of the Bouncing Check Law.
CIDG officers face raps
De la Vega said they will file charges against 15 members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) who attempted to “rescue” the suspects from their custody.
He said charges of obstruction of justice, grave threats and physical injuries will slapped against the CIDG officers.
De la Vega said Ong and Alfuerto made the policemen believe that they were being kidnapped by armed men.
He said Alfuerto and Ong have been convicted by the Metropolitan Trial Court in Manila for seven counts of estafa involving P5,507,000 in January last year.
A team of policemen from the QCPD’s Criminal Investigation Unit led by Chief Inspector Rodel Marcelo, Inspector Elmer Monsalve and SPO4 Allan de la Cruz worked on the case and eventually tracked down Ong in Muntinlupa City.
QCPD deputy director for operations Senior Superintendent Joel Pagdilao said a check with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showed that at least 22 cases have been filed against the two suspects.
Authorities said Ong is also facing an indictment case in the US involving $80 million scheme to defraud the US Export-Import Bank but is still subject of validation with the US Department of Justice.
“Based on our information, they (suspects) have allegedly been at it since the 1970s,” Pagdilao told The STAR.
The government of the Kingdom of Belgium, represented by their embassy here, filed a civil case against Ong and Alfuerto involving the lease of the premises owned by a Belgian company. – Reinir Padua, Non Alquitran
By Carmela Lapena
For banning business establishments from using plastic and non-biodegradable materials, Muntinlupa City has become a model for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s campaign against environmental degradation.
In what MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino described as a “bold move for the sake of environment,” Muntinlupa City started implementing Tuesday last week Ordinance No. 10-109, which prohibits the use of plastic bags on dry goods and regulates its utilization on wet goods, and totally prohibits the use of Styrofoam.
To remind the public of the ban, several posters had been placed in highly visible places within the city. In convenience stores, drugstores and public markets, brown paper or cloth bags are used instead of plastic bags.
At Super Mightee Mart, items are wrapped in recycled paper bags. If necessary, wet items like tube ice are packaged using oxo-biodegradable plastic.
At the newly-opened Muntinlupa Save More Supermarket, not a plastic bag is in sight. Groceries are instead placed in brown paper bags or in green cloth bags.
Apart from business owners, consumers are also pleased with the ordinance. A large tarpaulin bears signatures and encouraging messages from people supporting the effort.
“Maganda po ito!!! Para po sa kinabukasan naming mga bata at mga susunod pang mga bata (This is good, especially because the next generation will benefit from this),” wrote one Karlo.
A scribbler, however, pointed out the ordinance is not as environment-friendly as everyone thinks it is since the paper bags used as replacements for plastics are made from trees.
And then there are those who refuse to cooperate.
“Marami pa rin ang hindi sumusunod (Many still do not cooperate),” says Aling Lisa, a public market vendor. She says although they had been informed of the ordinance since December last year, some vendors still package their goods using plastic.
“Sayang din kasi yung mga plastic na nabili na (They don’t want the plastics that they have bought to be wasted),” she says.
Many violators, she says, had been caught and fined.
Violators are fined and given a warning, and business establishments found violating the ordinance may have their licenses to operate suspended for up to one year.
Muntinlupa is the first city in Metro Manila to ban the use of plastic bags for wet and dry goods and Styrofoam as food containers. While the city government admits that successfully implementing the ordinance is no easy feat, they expect the intervention will deter the rampant use and disposal of non-biodegradable materials into the environment.
The Muntinlupa City Council noted that disposed plastic bags and other non-biodegradable containers are the major causes of flash floods in the city during heavy rains as it clogged canals, three creeks, 11 rivers and other waterways that all drain into the nearby Laguna Lake.
Tolentino, meanwhile, lauded city for the ordinance and encouraged other local government units in Metro Manila to do the same.
“The MMDA strongly encourages local government units to adopt similar strong measures such as these to combat the dangerous effects of environmental degradation which leads to massive flooding and climate change,” Tolentino said in an article posted Friday on the MMDA website.
Tolentino said he would push for the adoption of this measure as a model ordinance to be adopted by the 15 other cities and one town comprising Metropolitan Manila.
Styrofoams are made of polystyrene, a petroleum-based plastic with insulation properties and is used in all types of products such as beverage cups and food containers.
A 1986 US Environmental Protection Agency report on solid waste named the polystyrene manufacturing process as the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste. The process of making polystyrene is reported to pollute the air and create large amounts of solid and liquid waste. On the other hand, toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain, especially when heated in a microwave. These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems. Polystyrene foam is often dumped into the environment as litter which breaks up into pieces that choke animals and clog their digestive systems.
Cities and counties such as Taiwan, Portland (USA) and Orange County, CA have outlawed polystyrene foam. - KBK, GMANews.TV
By Miko Morelos
Authorities are verifying reports that several multimillion-peso houses in the exclusive Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City—where narcotics agents have raided three medium-scale drug laboratories in the past two weeks—are being used as gambling dens.
Senior Superintendent Ramiro Bauza, Muntinlupa police chief, said that he had been tasked by Mayor Aldrin San Pedro to coordinate with local officials to review the subdivision’s security measures following the discovery of laboratories involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, in the area.
“We are looking into the report, particularly into this new information on gambling dens,” Bauza told the Inquirer in a phone interview Sunday. “As of now, we are in the process of reviewing the security protocol of the village.”
Earlier, San Pedro expressed alarm over the series of raids conducted by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents in the area, considering the stringent security measures being enforced in the exclusive subdivision. According to the mayor, the measures may have been used by drug lords to their advantage.
San Pedro’s spokesman and city information chief, Omar Acosta, told the Inquirer that the mayor had also heard reports about the alleged operations of gambling dens in the area, prompting the latter to order the police to conduct an investigation.
“But initially, the mayor wants to have the security measures at Ayala Alabang placed under review, because obviously, the criminals are using this in their favor,” Acosta said.
Several residents—who spoke to the Inquirer on the condition of anonymity due to safety concerns—claimed that some houses in Ayala Alabang that had been rented out to foreigners seem devoid of any sign of life during daytime.
At night, however, these houses suddenly become beehives of activity.
Another odd thing about those houses was the type of garbage they produced.
“The garbage of one house consisted of cigarette butts, bottles of beer and alcoholic beverage and even junk food wrappers,” the resident said. “What kind of family lives on that diet?”
This suspicion was backed up by several other residents.
Bauza, who was informed by the Inquirer of the residents’ statements, said that he would bring the matter up when he meets officials of the barangay and village association.
The recent drug raids, on the other hand, did not come as a surprise to some residents who said that these merely confirmed the suspicions they had held since last year.
One told the Inquirer about smelling “a noxious odor, as if something was burning” during the wee hours of the morning.
When the resident asked the security personnel of the village to verify the information, the latter said that everything was all right.
In the first raid conducted by PDEA agents on January 6, five Chinese nationals were arrested in a house at 504 Acacia Avenue. Seized during the operation were P15 million worth of drugs.
Two more raids conducted on January 13 at 119 Kanlaon St. and 536 Country Club Drive resulted in the seizure of more drugs and laboratory equipment but there were no arrests since the houses had been abandoned.
Authorities said that the houses were medium-sized drug laboratories that could produce P500 million worth of shabu within two to three days.
From Manila Standard:
THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency formally filed charges against responsible officers of the Fuerte Holdings Inc. and property administrators in relation to the dismantling of a clandestine laboratory used in the manufacture of shabu on Acacia Drive, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City.
PDEA chief Undersecretary Jose Gutierrez Jr. said the agency’s Legal and Prosecution Service is convinced that officers of the firm and the estate administrators of the properties of the late Consuelo Madrigal may be held liable for violation of certain provisions of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
He said an investigation conducted by PDEA after a clandestine laboratory was dismantled at 504 Acacia Drive, Ayala , Alabang in Muntinlupa City last Jan. 6 showed that the property, as registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission, is owned by Fuerte Holdings.
“Said property is under the management of property administrators. It was also discovered that the one-hectare property is under the management of estate administrators of the late Consuelo Madrigal,” Gutierrez said.
“As officers of Fuerte [Holdings Inc] and estate administrators, they are primarily responsible [for] ensuring that the property under their administration or management is not being utilized for illegal purposes. The negligence on their part to inspect the said property tolerated the commission of the crime, in this case the manufacture of shabu,” Gutierrez added. Florante S. Solmerin
By Nathaniel R. Melican
Owners of rented houses and other properties in Muntinlupa City, along with police and local government authorities, will soon be empowered to conduct periodic inspections on leased properties to ensure that their tenants are not involved in illegal activities.
Local legislators have proposed a city ordinance that would add restrictions to current laws on leasing after the discovery of three shabu laboratories inside the posh Ayala Alabang Village earlier this month.
City Councilor Raul Corro unveiled Wednesday the proposed ordinance that would compel property owners to conduct regular inspections on their rented properties, among others.
The barangay (village) council of Ayala Alabang Village has proposed similar measures, but Corro said the city ordinance would be more comprehensive.
“This will not only cover Ayala Alabang Village, but the entire Muntinlupa,” Corro said when he presented the proposal in a city council inquiry into the circumstances behind the recent Ayala Alabang drug raids.
The ordinance specifically states that the property owner or representatives, along with officers of homeowners’ associations, should be “allowed to enter the leased premises on any day to check if the lessee is complying with the rules.”
The measure also prohibits subleasing the property to another party for another use without the consent of the owner.
Violators will be fined not more than P5,000 or imprisoned for one year, which Corro said is the limitation set by the local government code on such violations.
Alfred Burgos, barangay chair of Ayala Alabang Village, welcomed the ordinance.
“This is a very good idea. We’ll see how we can impose it if it is enacted. The tighter lease measures and the visitation rights will only make our barangay more secure,” he said.
During the inquiry, Burgos and officers of Ayala Alabang Village Association were asked about specific tight measures they have been implementing in the wake of the raids involving illegal drugs.
Leandro de Leon, president of Ayala Alabang Village Association, said they are currently reviewing the contracts of leased houses inside the village and installing more security cameras, especially on secondary roads.
Another policy the village is looking into is the issuance of a different colored sticker to cars of individuals who just rent houses inside the village to differentiate them from homeowners.
Meanwhile, Burgos said they were implementing a deeper background investigation of possible tenants and coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration and foreign embassies to find out if potential lessees have any criminal record.
He said Ayala Alabang Village only allows the leasing of houses for residential purposes, particularly for single families.
“We are in the process of implementing these changes. Some of them might be completed by next month,” Burgos said.