‘Graftbuster’ arrested in extort entrapment

A criminal complaint for robbery has been filed by the Virac police station against Panganiban ‘graftbuster’ Horacio A. Villarete following his arrest in an entrapment operation last Friday at a local hotel.

Provincial Prosecutor Mary Jane L. Zantua approved the recommendation of Prosecutor I Francisco Samonte Jr. that an information be filed against Villarete, a native of barangay Sto. Santiago, Panganiban, at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), with bail initially set at P100,000.

According to the complaint, prior to his arrest on Feb. 20, 2020 at 12:30 P.M. at San Isidro Village, Virac, Villarete had extorted money and goods for several times from Engr. Romeo B. Belaro Jr., an employee of the DPWH Catanduanes Engineering District.

He allegedly threatened to report Belaro to the Ombudsman for alleged irregularities and corruption, with the engineer reportedly acceding to Villarete’s demands as he did not want to be bothered.

On Feb. 19 at 4:19 P.M., the complaint stated, the respondent contacted Belaro, asking him for his promise, and he agreed to give Villarete the amount of P4,000.

The following day at 8:21 A.M., the respondent called again and told Belaro to meet him at the reception area of Queen Maricel Inn so he could give Villarete the amount.

The DPWH engineer reported the extortion to the Virac police, which planned the entrapment operation.

When the suspect called at 12:19 P.M. and told the victim that they would meet at the parking lot of the inn, Belaro immediately informed the police.

When the engineer handed over the four P1,000 bills to Villarete and then tapped his safety helmet to signal the police that he had already given the cash, Staff Sgt. Richard Pereyra and the other PNP operatives approached and arrested Villarete.

The police took the cash as evidence along with his cellphone and a long brown envelope with two documents.

In his resolution, Prosecutor Samonte said he found probable cause to indict the respondent for the crime of robbery.

“Complainant’s evidence show that respondent, with intent to gain and by means of intimidation, unlawfully took money from complainant,” he averred.

Villarete, who is an associate of anti-corruption body Transparency International, ran for congressman in previous elections.

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