CAGAYAN de Oro City–Police operatives from Cogon police station arrested a group from Tagum City believed to be behind the series of “budol-budol” activities in the city and other parts of Mindanao last Thursday.
Captain Tessie Lleva, Cogon police station head, identified the suspects as Romeo Rivera, 72, married, of Ongio, Butuan City; Josie Barba, 62, widow, of Lapayan, Iligan City; Gina Pardillo, 53, married, of Lapayan; Mary Ann Torres, 48, single of Lapayan; and Dexter Maglasang, 39, of Tagum City.
“They are really good at sweet-talking their victims, and make them feel at ease around the suspects,” Lleva said.
The suspects were apprehended as they were about to talk to an elderly woman in front of an automated teller machine along Corrales Avenue Thursday afternoon, Aug. 8.
Lleva said Cogon police operatives responded to a pickpocketing incident outside a commercial establishment when they spotted the suspects allegedly ready to swindle a potential victim.
When the suspects saw the police officers coming their way, the gang tried to escape using their getaway vehicle. They were caught near the corner of Corrales C. M. Recto Avenue after few minutes later.
“Based on the number of CCTV footages we have on these suspects, we are already familiar with their profile and even the vehicle that they use to escape after committing budol-budol in the city,” she added.
Taken from the suspects were a bundle of fake money and paper, writing pads, a .38 caliber revolver with live bullets, and a hand grenade. The blue Toyota Revo the perpetrators use was also confiscated.
Dubbed by the Cogon police as the “Rivera Budol-Budol Gang,” the group, based in Tagum, has been victimizing several old women in different parts of the city and in other areas in Mindanao since 2017, Lleva said.
Just this June, an elderly woman was divested of more than P300,000 in cash, jewelry, and other valuable items due to “budol-budol.”
Lleva said they are still verifying if it was Rivera’s group who swindled that individual.
Since the group has a vehicle, they don’t stay in one place after victimizing someone.
“They are mobile. They usually go back to Tagum after committing the act,” she added.
Lleva said the suspects will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and illegal possession of explosive for the weapons that were seized from them.
She said they will also facing either swindling or estafa charges depending on the assessment of the prosecutor that will be based on the complaints.