Province, police investigate money transfer company
Cooperate in the investigation.
This was demanded yesterday by Cebu Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale from a cash transfer company that was named in the highly suspicious money remittance transactions being done by inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC).
The delivery of huge sums of money in and out of CPDRC should have been strictly prohibited.
Capitol and jail officials were caught off guard when they found handwritten records from inside a prison cell, which showed that cash amounting from P40,000 to P70,000 is being sent out a day to a cash transfer outlet in Cebu City.
“We’ll have to follow up that one especially the money being transferred ranged from at least P40,000 to P70,000. I’m asking the jail warden to check the remittance firm and pay a visit,” Magpale said in an interview.
Magpale revealed the cash transfer firm is “well-known” but she refused to identify the company while an investigation is being conducted by the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7).
“But it is a well-known money remittance outlet. We’re asking them to cooperate with us,” she said.
“We’re going to make them understand that what they are doing is actually a legitimate business. A legitimate business meant for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to send money to their relatives in the country. They should be aware of what transactions are being relayed over their outlets, and that they do not want to get involved in those, which are identified as unlawful,” she added.
She said they would want to find out first the company’s policies on how money transfers are conducted in certain remittance outlets.
“We are going to ask them how these transactions are done — whether the money was sent or received to and from Cebu,” she added.
She also proposed that money transfer outlets should disclose any information or details pertaining to the names of the people written on the remittance forms found inside the CPDRC during the Greyhound operation last Thursday.
“As long as we have the receipts, we can identify them. That’s a start,” Magpale stated.
CPDRC acting warden Roberto Legaspi, in a separate interview, said the Provincial Intelligence Branch of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO-PIB) is leading the investigation.
“We’re letting the PIB do the investigation because it’s an outside investigation. There’s no influence from the inside. Investigating on alleged illegal drug trade is their field, and that they have a wider intelligence unit than us so it’s better for them to do it,” Legaspi said.
Supt. Joie Pacito Yape, the PIB chief, begged off from issuing any statement so as not to jeopardize the investigation.
“Everything is under investigation for now. We’re still tracing from whom and for whom those money remittances were,” he said.
Supt. Mario Baquiran, head of the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) that is augmenting security at the jail, said the paper pad where the money remittance transactions were written were found on just one cell inside the CPDRC.
“There were 20 inmates inside and we still have to investigate who owns those stuff,” he told CDN.
So far, however, some of the money remittance notes were traced to Antonio Aguisanda, a former policeman who was detained since 2014 on charges of robbery.
While there were names of the recipients written on the notes, Baquiran refused to reveal them for now as they are still verifying the identities.
As a precautionary measure, Baquiran, who led the surprise inspection inside the CPDRC last Thursday, said they would no longer allow prisoners to receive more than P200 from their visitors.
“The amount will just be for their basic needs,” he said.
In the past, Baquiran said some inmates were allowed to receive huge sums of money that they supposedly needed to pay their lawyers.
“We have to implement strict measures now,” he said.
Legaspi said he was confident that the PIB would solve the money remittance case.
Letting the PIB handle the case would also assure the public that it is going to be an unbiased and transparent investigation since no one from the jail management is involved in the probe.
Amid speculations that the huge sums could be proceeds of drug trade being operated inside the jail, Legaspi said he did not think that the CPDRC was the source of illegal drugs although there were still contraband that managed to get inside.
Legaspi said that until the investigation is completed, he would not presume that the money remitted to the cash transfer outlet came from illegal drug transactions.
Last Thursday, police seized assorted drug paraphernalia, cellular phones, and money remittance records in yet another surprise inspection inside the provincial jail.
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