After more than six months of manhunt, police finally chanced upon the founder and leader of the KAPA Community Ministry International whom President Duterte wanted to make accountable for an alleged multi-million investment scam that victimized hundreds of Visayas and Mindanao residents.
But the arrest of Joel Apolinario on Tuesday morning did not come easy as the raiding cops were engaged by his armed bodyguards into a gunfight, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa.
Gamboa said two of the 21 bodyguards of Apolinario were killed while the rest were collared with him in an isolated island in Sitio Dahican in Barangay Handamayan of Lingig town in Surigao del Sur.
“Our men in Caraga region have been monitoring the whereabouts of the suspect and his armed men since January this year,” said Gamboa,
Brig. Gen. Joselito Esquivel, Caraga regional police commander, said they immediately planned the operation after confirming the presence of Apolinario in the isolated island.
Armed with an arrest warrant against Apolinario in connection with the alleged investment scam, police forces went to the area but were reportedly met with gunfire.
Apolinario’s bodyguards, however, were forced to surrender after the gun battle.
Esquivel said another bodyguard of Apolinario was wounded and was taken to a hospital in Bislig City.
Seized from them were 30 units of M16 rifles, two M4 rifles, a Garand rifle, three 60 caliber Machine Gun, a 50 caliber sniper rifle, a carbine, a shotgun, two Rocket Propelled Grenade, five .45 pistols and several bullets.
Apolinario went into hiding last year after President Duterte tagged him as involved in a finance-investment racket with religious undertones. A case of syndicated estafa was filed against him.
Apolinario repeatedly denied that he was using the religious sect that he founded to earn money by duping his members to invest money over a promise of huge return of investments.
Gamboa and Esquivel are expected to hold a virtual press briefing in connection with Apolinario’s arrest on Wednesday morning.