DID President Rodrigo Duterte make two notorious swindlers eat peso bills?
That’s the 64-dollar question after President Duterte had a confrontation with two men arrested for swindling unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned money by posing as either the President’s cousin or his special assistant Christopher ‘Bong’ Go.
On Tuesday night, Philippine National Police officials presented Jose Matias alias ‘Jose Roa Matias II,’ a man claiming to be a presidential cousin and Henry Halaghay alias ‘Bong Go’ to the former Davao City mayor in Malacañang.
“We were directed by the President to present the two before him. He joked that he wanted to see a long lost relative,” said PNP-CIDG chief Director Roel B. Obusan.
Officials said they expected the president to make the two swindlers eat their fake credentials. However, the Journal Group could not confirm if the commander-in-chief really punished the two suspects by making them eat crumpled bills and down them with soft drinks.
President Duterte’s uncommon ways of dealing with criminals including swindlers have endeared him to many Filipinos who have long been clamoring for a president that could stop all forms of swindling.
When he was still the Davao City vice mayor, Duterte became known for making swindlers — especially those selling fake land titles — eat their fake documents. Several years ago, suspected swindler Manolito Gavas learned his lesson very well when he was forced to eat fake land registration papers by the Chief Executive.
Duterte has expressed outrage over people scamming the poor. In the case of Gavas, he was arrested for swindling informal settlers in the city of their hard-earned cash by posing to belong to a foundation that could grant lots in Davao City for just P250.
Angered by Gavas’ scam, the fighting official forced the swindler to eat the fake land titles he had presented to his victims.
In a report to PNP chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa, Matias was described by Obusan as a ‘known swindler’ that has victimized dozens of individuals with political ambitions, particularly those planning to run in the forthcoming May 14 barangay elections.
Obusan said that members of the CIDG Intelligence Diision arrested the 57-year old Matias during an entrapment operation inside the Deva Cruz Resort in Sta. Felomina, San Pablo City in Laguna on Thursday last week.
He said that one Ronaldo Gatdula complained that the suspect introduced himself as’ Attorney’ Jose Roa Matias II’and claimed he is a relative of President Duterte and the founder of the People’s Congress who can get him elected to a barangay post in Bulacan.
After getting the P75,000 he demanded from the suspect, Matias disappeared and could not be contacted again by Gatula. The victim said that last March 7, the suspect contacted him anew and demanded an additional P5,000 for the processing of his endorsement papers. The ensuing entrapment operation led to the arrest of the suspect.
On the other hand, Halaghay, 63, was arrested by CIDG National Capital Region operatives under Senior Superintendent Wilson Asueta for posing as ‘Secretary Bong Go’ during an operation in Bgy. Manggahan in Rodriguez, Rizal last March 6.