Erap Orders Probe of Lawton Extortion Racket; MPD Traffic Chief Sacked

Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has ordered an extensive investigation into the alleged extortion activities at the Lawton area allegedly being run by some members of the Manila Police District-Traffic Enforcement Unit (MPD-TEU).

Estrada has expressed outrage over the arrest of yet another MPD policeman for extortion – the third since July 7 – by operatives of the Philippine National Police-Counter-Intelligence Task Force (CITF) based in Camp Crame.

“This unfortunate incident undermines our efforts to professionalize our city police force,” the Manila mayor said, “so I want to know how and why this criminal activity had been tolerated, and who are the people protecting it.”

Estrada has tasked MPD director Chief Supt. Joel Coronel to dig deeper in the case and identify anyone who could be in cahoots with the suspect, PO2 Joseph Buan, and all those benefiting from the reported collection of weekly payola from public utility buses (PUBs) operating at Liwasang Bonifacio.

Buan, a member of MPD-TEU, was arrested on July 28 in an entrapment operation set up by CITF operatives. He and some of his colleagues were reportedly collecting P500 to P2,000 from bus operators of Viofel, EPL, and Yohan Bus Company every week.

Following Estrada’s directive, Coronel relieved Buan and his superior, MPD TEU chief Supt. Lucile Faycho, while an investigation is underway.

Coronel clarified though that Faycho’s relief was an “administrative remedy” in order to pave the way for an “impartial and objective investigation.”

“So it’s not a penalty. Depending on the results of our investigation, if we find probable cause to charge them, then that’s the time they will have to be transferred or reassigned permanently,” the MPD chief explained.

Should Faycho be cleared of any criminal or administrative liability, she will be reinstated back to her post, Coronel stressed.

On July 7, CITF operatives arrested Chief Insp. Ramon Nazario, commander of the police community precinct at the University Belt, based on the extortion complaint filed by a group of vendors.

Nazario was arrested along with Barangay 409, Zone 42 Kagawad Gregorio Bernardo and a certain Raymund Baga.

On July 21, CITF personnel again operated in Manila, arresting P01 Raymund Gulapa who allegedly demanded P15,000 from an arrested drug suspect in exchange for lowering his criminal case.

(via |