TACLOBAN CITY- Secretary Ismael D. Sueno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to put behind bars swindlers who pose as the DILG chief or any of his staff to extort money from unsuspecting local officials or businessmen. In a recent interview with the media, Sueno said he received reports from the field about individuals who present themselves as his personal staff and victimize local officials who want to receive a special favor from the DILG such as grant of fire trucks.

“Tugisin ninyo ang mga mapanlinlang na mga taong ito at siguruhing makakalaboso sila,” he told the PNP. The DILG Secretary said Representative Ann Hofer of the second district of Zamboanga Sibugay wrote him a letter to request for the conduct of an investigation involving an impostor who extorted money from municipal mayors in her congressional district in exchange for a promise of delivery of fire trucks. In Hofer’s letter, she said a person, who spoke with confidence and introduced himself as the DILG Secretary, called her office and told her that the DILG is releasing fire trucks to interested mayors in her district.

The caller gave her his mobile number (09162430582) where the mayors can get in touch with him. Hofer gave the number to several mayors and in less than an hour, Mayor Leonardo Talania of Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay told her that he deposited P75,000 in cash as instructed by “Secretary Sueno” to a certain Elmer G. Ang with BDO Savings Acct. Number 6460047552 from BF Resort, Las Pinas Branch. Hofer was able to warn the other mayors who were then on their way to the nearest Western Union outlets to deposit the same amount to Atty. Esther E. Corpuz. Other similar extortion activities were reported by congressmen Ace Barbers of the 2nd district of Surigao del Norte, Abdulmunir Arbison of the 2nd district of Sulu and Juan Pablo Rimpy Bondoc of the 4th district of Pampanga.

Meanwhile, Regional Director Pedro A. Noval Jr. of DILG-8 (Eastern Visayas) reported that his name was also used to solicit for an unnamed activity purportedly to be held in DILG.  Director Noval said that an official from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) was approached this morning (August 1) to donate money for an upcoming DILG activity. “I have not authorized anyone to conduct fund-raising or use my name to solicit any amount for whatever activities”, emphasized RD Noval while calling on the public to report people who shall use his name for solicitations.  Secretary Sueno further directed the PNP to coordinate with the National Telecommunications Commission to trace the owner of the cellphone number, as well as with BDO to check the bank’s CCTVs.### (DILG Public Affairs and Communication Service, with additional info from DILG-8) (PR)