A criminal syndicate behind the series of abductions of businessmen and Bureau of Internal Revenue officials struck again Friday night, this time in Makati City where its members tried to abduct and rob two Bureau of Customs female officers.
In the latest incident, four gunmen shot and wounded Maricon Grafil Manalo, 56, head of Customs Port of Manila-Formal Entry Division (POM-FED), and her sister Marietta Grafil Lasac, 60, POM-FED Customs principal appraiser, both residents of Barangay Sun Valley Subdivision, Parañaque City.
Police said Manalo sustained a gunshot wound on her left finger while Lasac suffered a gunshot wound on the backside of her shoulder. They were rushed to the Makati Medical Center and were now in stable condition.
Initial investigation showed that the incident happened at the corner of Lapu-Lapu Avenue and Victoria Street in Barangay Magallanes around 8:30 p.m. Friday.
The sisters and their companion Sherlyn Salazar, also a Customs employee, were on their way home on board a gray Toyota Altis with registration plate number DAH 4106 when another car blocked their path.
At least four armed men alighted from the car and ordered the three passengers to get out of their vehicle at gunpoint.
When the women stayed put, one of the gunmen smashed the car’s glass window where Manalo was seated, prompting her to shift to reverse and evade the gunmen, who fired at them, hitting Manalo and Lasac in the process.
Salazar, who was at the backseat of the car, was not injured. The gunmen fled after the incident. Police said the victims immediately sought assistance from a nearby barangay outpost.
Makati City police chief investigator Major Gideon Ines Jr. said they recovered seven fired cartridge cases and four bullet shells of different firearms at the crime scene. He added the investigation is still ongoing in coordination with the Bureau of Customs intelligence unit.
Police said there was an indication that the incident might have been a failed abduction and robbery.
Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Saturday issued a statement and strongly condemned the shooting incident involving his three officers.
Guerrero said he will exert all efforts to go after the perpetrators in order to bring them to justice.
He tapped the bureau’s Intelligence and Investigation Service to coordinate with the police for updates and further investigation.
“The agency will extend the necessary support and assistance to its personnel. We enjoin all BOC employees to remain focused on our mission and pray for the speedy recovery of our colleagues,” Guerrero said.
Police recently killed in a raid in Bulacan a suspected member of a syndicate allegedly involved in the series of abductions involving BIR officials.
The authorities also arrested four other suspects and seized a cache of high caliber firearms and handguns, assorted ammunitions and grenades at the suspected safe houses of the gang in Marilao and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan and in Caloocan City.
The police operations came in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to PNP police director Oscar Albayalde to look into the reports of kidnap-for-ransom cases involving BIR officials and personnel, and several businessmen.
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