Three persons, including two linemen, have been arrested in Talisay City, Cebu for allegedly taking advantage of the power brownouts caused by typhoon “Odette” and reportedly extorting money from residents who wanted their electricity service restored, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Friday, Jan 28.
In a statement, the NBI identified those arrested as Maximo Baguio Mariot Jr. and Visayas Electric Company (VECO) linemen Doroteo Valmoria Auxtero Jr. and Bryan Burlaos Sacmar.
“The arrested subjects will be charged with violation of Republic Act No. 7832 (Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994),” the NBI said.
It said the three suspects were arrested after Mariot was caught receiving marked money during the entrapment operation conducted by operatives of the NBI’s Central Visayas Regional Office (NBI-CEVRO) last Tuesday, Jan. 25.
“The operatives were able to recover from the subjects the marked money, VECO ID and assorted IDs of Subject Mariot, cash bills, three smart phones, one (1) VECO jacket, and one (1) bundle of VECO billing statements,” the NBI said.
It said the entrapment operation was conducted based on information from VECO which reported that “certain individuals are taking advantage of the recent calamity (Typhoon ‘Odette’) to extort money from consumers who were affected by the said typhoon in exchange for priority electricity repairs and immediate energization.”
“The NBI-CEVRO immediately conducted a surveillance operation to verify the veracity of the information and was able to confirm that Subject Mariot is demanding money from the consumers of VECO in exchange for immediate restoration of electricity,” it said.
“The operatives were also able to discover that Subject Mariot disregarded safety protocol and would merely connect electricity from any available source,” it added