FIVE members of a “notorious” gun-for-hire group operating in Central Luzon were arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said on Monday, November 12.
Albayalde said Dennis Matias and Mary Ann Mallari were arrested in Lagro Quezon City, Raymond Dequina was accosted in Echague Isabela, and John Lana and Jackie Lou Isidro were apprehended in Iloilo.
He said the suspects were all members of the Ricardo Peralta Group, “which has been involved in a long list of assassinations in Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Tarlac, Metro Manila and Cagayan Valley.”
Recovered from the suspects were two assault rifles, two handguns, one carbine conversion kit, one shotgun, a grenade, two improvised explosive devices, 22 different ATM and credit cards, four mobile phones and three Sports Utility Vehicles believed to have been used in the group’s illegal activities.
“Actually, matagal na listed itong grupo na ito. When I was still the S2 (intelligence officer) and R2 (provincial intelligence officer) of PRO (Police Regional Office) 3, matagal na itong grupo na ito. Naaaresto na yan one time or he surrendered one time in Region 3 si Rick Peralta but then after that, he went again to his activities na ganyan. Listed sila as PAGs (Private Armed Groups). He (Peralta) is the head of the red vigilante noon sa Nueva Ecija,” said Albayalde.
According to the AKG, Peralta, who is still at large, has several standing arrest warrants for multiple murder, kidnap for ransom, carnapping and attempted homicide.
The AKG said Peralta was accused along with former Gapan mayor Ernesto Natividad for the murder of Ericson and Ebertson Pascual in a Nueva Ecija cockpit in 2006.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption has offered P5-million reward for information leading to Peralta's arrest.
Other alleged members of the group who remain at large were identified as Santiago Corpuz, who serves as the contractor of the group; Morlito Isidro, who is in-charge of recruitment; Roberto Sta. Ines, a driver and also a hitman; Jigs, Diavid, and Aldrin Isidro who were all hitmen; Jeffrey Gomez; Arnel Villareal; Ryan Peralta and several others who were identified in their aliases.
Albayalde said the group is being utilized by politicians in the northern and Central Luzon especially during the election period.
“As of this time, we cannot divulge the names of those politicians. We have intelligence information that needs to be confirmed and validated. Hindi lang natin basta basta masabi ‘yung pangalan ng mga pulitiko. Namonitor naming yan sa Nueva Ecija, Cagayan, dito sa Metro Manila, Bulacan and even Northern part of Luzon sa may bandang La Union,” he said.
“Ang mga information we gathered are mostly governors, mayors, mga candidates running for governors, mayors (ang mga client ng grupo),” he added.
Albayalde commended the AKG for the “significant arrest.”
“This is significant because this would lead to peaceful, orderly and honest elections come midterm elections this coming 2019. As I have said earlier, this is part of our proactive measures para maiwasan at ma-neutralize itong mga PAGs natin, ‘yung mga pwedeng gamitin ng mga politicians,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)