By Martin Sadongdong
Operatives of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (HPG) recaptured the alleged brains behind the infamous ‘rent-sangla’ or car rental modus operandi which victimized hundreds of car owners in 2017, a police director announced Tuesday.
Rafaela Anunciacion, 57, of Pacita Complex, San Pedro, Laguna, was arrested by HPG’s Special Operations Division (SOD) last August 25 in the parking area of a mall in San Pedro City.
Armed with a warrant of arrest issued by Hon. Arthur Melicor, presiding judge of Valenzuela Regional Trial Court Branch 284, the lawmen nabbed Anunciacion for violation of swindling/estafa under Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code.
Anunciacion was first arrested on March 2, 2017 after being linked to the car rental modus but she managed to post a P40,000-bail four days later for her estafa case.
Aside from Anunciacion, her alleged partner, Tychicus Nambio, and several others were also ordered arrested but they all managed to post bail.
“The problem is that the victims opted to file separate estafa charges against the suspects in 2017, instead of uniting and filing a single syndicated estafa case which is non-bailable,” HPG Director Roberto Fajardo said.
For estafa to be upgraded to syndicated estafa, Fajardo bared that at least two victims should file a single complaint against the suspects.
“We are also looking at filing carnapping charges against [Anunciacion] because if the contract of the car already expired and the vehicle was not returned, it has to be treated as a carnapping case. Unfortunately, it is for the court to decide,” Fajardo added.
In rent-sangla modus, the suspect would rent a car, usually a brand new one, between P25,000 to P45,000. The vehicle would then be pawned to other individuals from P200,000 to P400,000.
The operation centered in Calabarzon region (Region 4A), Central Luzon, and Metro Manila.
‘Not a mastermind’
However, Anunciacion’s sister, who refused to be named, denied that the suspect was the mastermind in the ‘rent-sangla’ modus. “Ang tanging pagkakamali ng kapatid ko nilublob niya ang sarili niya sa pautangan. Pero babayaran din naman namin iyon (The only mistake that my sister committed is she let herself drown in debt. But we are going to pay them),” the suspect’s sister said.
She claimed Rafaela had “financiers” who handles her sister’s dealings with car owners. She refused to give further information.
Back to business
When the rent-sangla modus was first busted in February 2017, it was reported that at least 1,800 car owners were allegedly duped by Anunciacion and his partner, Tychicus Nambio.
Prior to the discovery of the modus, the group was believed to have been operating for 10 years already or since 2007, and have since raked in around P1 billion to P3 billion.
Fajardo said 608 vehicles have already been recovered where 514 of it were already released to their owners while 94 others remain impounded.
The HPG chief said the operatives discovered that Anunciacion went back to rent-sangla modus after she got out of jail in 2017.
This year, at least 29 cars were found to have been rented by Anunciacion and pawned to other individuals. All of the vehicles were impounded at the impounding area of the PNP-HPG headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
It was learned that most of the victims hesitated to press charges upon getting back their vehicles since their cars would have to be used as evidence, thereby, affecting their car rental business.