KEANO Nick Pabilango and cousins Goriel and Kevin Mac Roa were playing “catch me if you can” at the intersection of Mabini and Velez Streets Friday, right after the afternoon classes at the City Central School.

The sidewalks from every corner of Velez streets were busy. Students from other schools passed by the streets, some hoping to get a quick ride and others heading to the nearby De Lara Park at the Capitol.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Keano Nick, 12, and elder of the three, was also spinning his tops. His eyes were very sharp looking at the spin. But it was also sharp enough to see helpless students being beaten up and extorted by seven bullies.

Keano Nick, along with two, cannot look away from what they’re witnessing -- they’ve been seeing this almost every day and they can’t take it no more. They ran away towards Barangay 14 authorities and reported the incident around 6 p.m.

The village officials headed by barangay chairwoman Ester Sibi sprung into action. Councilor Manny Maagad, along with four tanods, led the operation.

They brought with them the three witnesses. And as soon the kids pointed on the alleged minor extortionists, the operation went to a real “catch me if you can.”

Four of minor suspects -- Michael Saldo, 15; Reggie Montil, 15; Jerson Adipa, 14; and Carlo Roy Edollantes, 13 -- were quickly apprehended. Three others ran away from the scene.

Saldo resisted apprehension, fought back against Maagad and broke away from the flock. The village official went chasing him across the street, and was nearly by a taxi cab before being finally cornered.

The barangay authorities held the four at the Barangay 14 hall before turning them over to the Police Station 1 (PS1).

“We saw them beating up helpless students if they don’t give money,” Keanu Nick narrated. “We saw one of the victims helplessly fell down but was still beaten for not giving his money.”

They also saw another victim giving all his money from his pockets just to spare him from the alleged extortionists.

“That was a lot of money. There were paper bills and some coins,” the witnesses said.

A day before, Carl Condare, Adrian Olape and Riare Ramos, all senior students from the Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS), were also bullied by the same group into giving money but they refused.

Learning that the alleged extortionists have been apprehended, Riare, along with the two other victims, could not resist going to the barangay hall to check on the faces of the “bullies” who allegedly once tried to rob them. He badly wanted to get even with them.

Seething in anger, Riare asked one of the tanods” “Pwede manumbag ko sir?”

Councilor Ben Flores, the chairman on peace and order, said most of the extortion victims in the area are from City Central School, Pilgrim Christian College and MOGCHS.

Barangay authorities said extortion by out-of-school youths among schoolchildren and even high school students in the area is common.

Authorities will turn over the suspects to a facility for youth offenders under the Department of Social Welfare and Development. (Jaime A. Frias II)