GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A team of police and Army personnel on Friday afternoon arrested at least 16 alleged “fake” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reservists who claimed they were deployed to help secure the relief supplies at the city gymnasium in Barangay Lagao here.
Col. Aden Lagradante, city police director, said on Saturday the suspects, who were unarmed but clad in Army camouflage uniforms, showed up and manned the security posts at the gym without proper coordination.
Lagradante said the men claimed that they were detailed to help provide security to city government personnel and the relief goods stored at the facility.
He said they initially received information from concerned residents about the “suspicious” presence of the group at the city gym compound and immediately coordinated the matter with the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan.
They responded at the scene at past 4 p.m., Lagradante added.
Upon verification, he said, the suspects introduced themselves as Army reservists under the AFP Special Operations Command (Socom) but failed to present a “letter order” proving their deployment from the AFP.
“They instead showed a detail order from the TRE Universal Management Company based on its letterhead. Their names were there and with corresponding ranks,” Lagradante told reporters.
The suspects were identified as Ermo Zonio, 32, of Roca subdivision, Barangay Apopong; Arnel Marquizo, 38, of Purok 19, Barangay Lagao; William Cinco, 63, of Barangay Fatima; Bernabe Marquizo, 48, of Purok 19, Barangay Lagao; Lemuel Calago, 55, of Purok Tusaville, Barangay San Isidro; Francis Alvin Cinco, 30, of Barangay Fatima;
Jerwin Balabat, 32, of Purok Kulasi, Barangay Labangal; Bennie Priscellas, 36; Danilo Fregoner, 58; Ricky Espinosa, 33, of Barangay Calumpang; Rolly Mending, 48, of Barangay Apopong; Joseph Solas, 40, of Polomolok, South Cotabato; Rodolfo Paderes, 63; Albert Cinco, of Barangay Fatima; George Lorenzo, 56, of Barangay Mabuhay; and Conrado Castrudes Jr., 37, of Purok Crisostomo, Barangay Calumpang.
Lagradante said the identification cards presented by the suspects indicating they were Army reservists appeared “fabricated”.
Col. Eduardo Gubat, Joint Task Force GenSan commander, confirmed that the suspects were not part of any reserved unit of the Philippine Army or AFP.
Gubat said the AFP Socom, which is based in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, has no unit for reservists.
Lagradante said the suspects were detained and would be charged with usurpation of authority and official functions under Articles 177 and 179 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 3815. (PNA)