A member of the acetylene gang believed to be responsible for robbing a pawnshop in Puerto Princesa in 2011 was arrested Wednesday in Narra, southern Palawan, by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
CIDG provincial officer PMaj. Carlos Lictag identified the wanted suspect as Villamor S. Wagis, alias “Ramon Villamor and Ramon Onano”, 49-years old, and a resident of Brgy. Bagong Sikat where he was also arrested on June 12.
Lictag said Wagis is on their director for intelligence (DI) list as a member of the acetylene gang.
He said Wagis’ arrest was part of their intensive Campaign Against Organized Crime Groups (OCGs) and Criminal Gangs or “Oplan Salikop”.
On July 11, 2011, unidentified suspects robbed an undetermined amount of jewelry by digging an underground tunnel to get inside the building of the Palawan Pawnshop branch located along J. Rizal Avenue.
He said Wagis served then as a “lookout” while the other suspects were looting the pawnshop.
Lictag said there were 18 suspects involved in robbing the pawnshop branch and Wagis was the last to be arrested.
Some of them were recruited miners from Baguio in the Mountain Province because their gang allegedly operated nationwide.
“Noong nakita nila na ‘yong pawnshop siguro punung-puno marami ng laman ‘yong volt, pumunta sila sa some parts ng Baguio, sa Mountain Province ‘yan, humanap sila ng expert na mga minero doon. Nakahanap sila ‘yong mga tao na inano (nahanap) nila doon ganoon din ang gawain. Kasi nag-o-operate sila in Philippines ‘yan, sa Mindanao, Visayas, trabaho na nila. Kumuha ng expert na ganoon ‘yong gawain at dinala nila dito,” said Lictag.
Lictag said they never stopped looking for Wagis after the incident because they want to make sure they resolve the crime.
He added that Wagis’ group was notorious for being the first gang to have dug a tunnel to steal from a pawnshop in Palawan.
“Nahuli na lahat ito maliban na lang sa kanya. Siya na lang ang huli,” he said.
CIDG PPtl. Rexie Heredero said Wagis was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Assisting Judge Evelyn Cañete on September 2, 2013, under Criminal Case No. 20634.
Heredero said the court has set a bail of P12,000 for Wagis’ temporary freedom.
In an interview with Wagis on Wednesday, he admitted he was really a part of the acetylene gang, but he said his role was only to be their group’s lookout.
He also said they were only 12, not 18 as claimed by the CIDG.
“Dose (12 katao) kami noon. Mga nakasama ko noon, dose lang naman kami. Mga dalawa o tatlong buwan din siguro [naming pinagplanuhan]. Sa drainage sila dumaan doon mismo sa may harap ng Palawan Pawnshop. Opo, gabi [ang oras ng paghuhukay sa paggawa ng tunnel]. Lookout lang din ako pero nakasubok akong tumingin sa loob [ng tunnel]… sa imburnal. Mababaw lang din, parang kapantay lang ng culvert,” said Wagis.
Wagis said he was already jailed before for seven years and six months due to homicide case filed against him for killing a man in Bataraza.
He said he was granted parole in 2002 but got involved in 2011 in the Palawan Pawnshop robbery.
Wagis said will pay the bail so he can continue farming in Narra.
“Ang maipapayo ko lang sa mga kabataan, huwag na silang pumasok sa mga ilegal na gawain kay [napakahirap ng ganitong buhay],” he also added.
The CIDG personnel also directly involved in the arrest operation were PCMS Joselito M. Licerio, PCMS Norman M. Licerio, PCMS Delfin P. Yan Jr., PSSg Malvin G. Heredero, PSSg Christopher P. Enriquez, Pat Rexie Heredero, and Pat Ira Janine Mondragon.