BACLARAN VENDOR CRIES EXTORTION; PARANAQUE TRAFFIC CHIEF ARRESTED

MANILA, NOVEMBER 6, 2003  (STAR) The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested the chief of the Parañaque City Traffic Enforcement Unit (TEU) for extorting P32,000 from a vendor selling her wares in Baclaran the other day.

Lawyer Vicente de Guzman, chief of the NBI-Special Action Unit (SAU), said charges of robbery/extortion will be filed against Superintendent Rodolfo Salvador, 52, before the Parañaque City Prosecutor’s Office.

De Guzman said Salvador was collared inside his office near the Redemptorist Church on Roxas Boulevard in Baclaran, Parañaque City at around 3 p.m. last Tuesday shortly after an entrapment operation conducted by SAU agents headed by Raffy Gonzaga.

The arrest stemmed from a complaint by Divina Custodio, a vendor in the Baclaran area. She claimed Salvador has been extorting money from her in exchange for selling space.

Custodio claimed that in the past, she and other illegal vendors would pay Salvador P2,000 a week to avoid arrest during clearing operations.

When the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) intensified its operation against illegal vendors in Baclaran, Custodio’s stall was among those dismantled.

A few days after the clearing operation, Custodio said Salvador offered the space beside his TEU office. The vendor said she often failed to pay the P2,000 "rental" because of poor sales.

As a result, Salvador padlocked her stall. But several days later, the officer contacted Custodio and promised to re-open the stall provided that she "donates" a computer to the traffic office.

Salvador allegedly asked her to simply give him the cash so he could by the computer himself. Thinking it was a no-win situation, Custodio decided to seek assistance and filed a complaint with the NBI-SAU.

Gonzaga was tapped to verify the complaint and conduct an entrapment operation that eventually led to the arrest of Salvador.

Initially, Salvador and his men tried to resist arrest. However, the policemen were subdued by NBI agents, who were assisted by elements of the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO).

After the arrest, De Guzman said Salvador’s hands were found positive for ultraviolet fluorescent powder, indicating that he touched the marked money used in the entrapment.

Salvador denied the extortion charges, claiming that the money was just thrown to his desk by Custodio. – Cecille Suerte Felipe


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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