Four suspected robbers nabbed hours after Passi City heist

By Jennifer P. Rendon

Four suspects who allegedly staged a robbery hold-up in Passi City, Iloilo were arrested in a hot pursuit operation.

Police identified the suspects as Maneleo Orbeta, 31, of Macapagal Street, Poblacion, Rizal Ilauod, Calinog, Iloilo; Ijie Sortigosa, 20, and Ian Morales, 34, both of Barangay Maasin, Passi City; and Dexter Magbanua, 33, of Barangay Man-it, Passi City.

Staff Sergeant Roderick Larida, Passi City police investigator, said the four suspects were nabbed around 1:30 p.m. at Barangay Sablogon, Passi City, some 2 kilometers from Barangay Maasin where the robbery happened.

The four suspected were tagged in the robbery of Jobert Paguntalan, 35, an employee of JT International Phils. and resident of Barangay Poblacion West, Oton town.

Paguntalan was with company driver Jerry Villarito, 44, of Barangay Sapa, Dumangas, Iloilo when the heist happened.

Reports indicated that Paguntalan and Villarito were navigating an uphill road at Barangay Maasin on board an Isuzu van around 9 a.m. Monday when four men came out of the sugarcane field.

Paguntalan identified Orbeta as the one who poked a firearm and told him, “Hold-up ni. Kwarta lang amon (This is a hold-up. We just want the money).”

Sortigosa also allegedly pointed a handgun at Villarito.

The suspects then took Paguntalan’s belt bag containing P40,000 cash and three mobile phones worth 53,000.

One of the mobile phones was later seized from Morales’ possession while P14,000 cash was recovered from Orbeta.

Sortigosa yielded P15,000 cash and another mobile phone.

The suspects were identified after responding police recovered a sack with clothes and a homemade shotgun.

Residents tipped the cops that the clothes may have been owned by their neighbor.

The suspects were collared as they were riding a top-down tricycle going to Passi City proper.

In a follow-up investigation, two of the four arrested suspects were also tagged in another robbery in Cabatuan town on August 5.

But Captain Myles Dieron, Cabatuan police chief, did not name the suspects pending the filing of charges.

The Cabatuan robbery happened around 1:30 p.m. Thursday after Dexter Genodepa collected dues from their clients at Barangay Tupol Oeste.

Genodepa, 25, a resident of Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, works for ASA Philippines Microfinance.

Two suspects divested Genodepa of his collection money amounting to around P60,000 then fled.

Colonel Gilbert Gorero, Iloilo police chief, said the suspects acted as ambulant mango vendors while monitoring their targets.