Bataan RTC orders arrest of ‘agaw-lupa’ syndicate in Hermosa 

A warrant of arrest was issued by Judge Ma. Lourdes Eltanal-Ignacio of Bataan Regional Trial Court Branch 5 on February 21, 2023, against a suspended Barangay Chairman and 8 other individuals wanted for syndicated estafa.

The individuals identified as Barangay Captain Rolando Martinez, Fe Andulan, Maria Levy Andulan, Magdalena Sanchez, Lorna Favorito, Elizabeth Mesina, Mila Dejan, Elvira Gamit, and Josefina Pasquil.   They are being accused of committing the crime of syndicated estafa in Hermosa, Bataan.

Syndicated Estafa is a non-bailable offense under Article 315 Paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Presidential Decree 1689. It is a form of large-scale fraud that involves three or more individuals conspiring to defraud people of their money or property.

According to reports, the suspects led by Martinez allegedly promised their victims a parcel of disputed land owned by Riverforest Development Corporation under the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in exchange for their money being collected as “butaw” or mostly hefty contributions on a weekly or monthly basis. 

However, after several years of payments, the suspects failed to deliver on their promises after a high court’s decision favored the private company last December 2022.

The authorities have been on the lookout for the suspects, who are believed to have fled the area. 

The public is urged to come forward with any information that could help in the arrest of the suspects. Anyone who may have been victimized by the group is also encouraged to report the incident to the authorities.

In a related development, another complaint of syndicated estafa will be filed at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office against the same group and their other  cohorts including barangay secretary Augusto delos Reyes and Belinda Petinez following the appearance of more victims, mostly overseas Filipinio workers (OFWs) citing the same modus operandi.