Fire official nabbed during entrapment

Fire official nabbed during entrapment
IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO. An operative of the National Bureau of Investigation 7 holds the P200,000 in cash that was used in the entrapment operation against Roy Sangueza Castro (right), chief of the Fire Safety Enforcement Section of the Cebu City Fire Office, on Thursday, June 27, 2024. Castro allegedly extorted P400,000 from Rochelle Olinan Quimbo so that her application to become a firefighter would be approved. Quimbo claimed she submitted all the requirements but still did not pass because she did not have a backer. Castro’s arrest surprised officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection 7. NBI 7

A FIRE inspector was arrested during an entrapment operation by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 after he was allegedly caught extorting large sums of money from applicants.

The suspect was identified as Roy Sangueza Castro, chief of the Fire Safety Enforcement Section of the Cebu City Fire Office (CCFO).

Wenceslao Galendez Jr., who led the operation, revealed that Rochelle Olinan Quimbo approached them to report the official’s actions during her application process.

“Eligible siya (She is eligible) so she has all the qualifications. It’s just that she doesn’t have any backer, according to her, and that’s what we found out from our information from other sources,” said Galendez during the press conference on Friday, June 28, 2024.

Galendez added that the application for a firefighter undergoes several processes to pass.

Quimbo allegedly submitted all documents for her application to be a firefighter, but she still did not pass because she lacked a backer.

According to her, she was the third applicant for the position of Fire Safety Officer 1 at the BFP, in which Castro allegedly asked her for P400,000 if she wanted to be included on the final list of oath-takers.

After submitting her application and being included on the list of oath-takers, Castro allegedly pressured her to pay the amount as a “Thank you” or gratuity to their superiors.

During the operation on Thursday, June 27, Castro allegedly received P200,000 from Quimbo, after which he was immediately apprehended by agents.

Attempts were made by Superbalita Cebu to get Castro’s statement, but he declined to respond.

The NBI 7 prepared charges against Castro for violation of Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; direct bribery under Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code; and grave misconduct under RA 6713, or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

“Tarnished” image

Meanwhile, officials of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) 7 were surprised about Castro’s arrest.

According to BFP 7 Director Chief Supt. Roberto Genave, the arrest puts their agency to shame.

He assured that his office will not tolerate any illegal action and that there will be dire penalties if the investigation proves the allegations against Castro are true.

“It was very bad news for us because it truly tarnished the image of the Bureau of Fire Protection, not only BFP Region 7 but the entire BFP. However, I want to reiterate that we do not tolerate such unlawful activities,” said Genave.

The agency is strict against cases of extortion. In fact, it has a long-standing program called “ComPlan Santindig,” which informs applicants that there are no fees for applying to become a firefighter.

The agency strives to ensure that everyone entering the firefighting profession goes through a strict process, as it wants the selected personnel to be the best.

Genave said the heaviest penalty for such a case is dismissal from service, followed by the filing of a criminal case against the individual.

He said Castro will undergo an investigation and be placed on floating status until results of the inquiry are released. That is, if the the latter manages to post bail.

This isn’t the first time cases of extortion were reported in the BFP 7.

On June 11, 2014, two fire safety inspectors at the BFP 7 were arrested after accepting a P10,000 bribe from a private school manager.

A former BFP 7 member also faced extortion charges for allegedly extorting P30,000 from an applicant. He was arrested in an entrapment operation also by NBI 7 operatives on June 27, 2019. / ANV, AYB / JUVFFE KRIZ ALMENDRAS / UP CEBU INTERN

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