A “solid vote’’ from one of the country’s influential religious blocs commands a big price, according to “Ka Rico’’ and “Ka Tony.’’
The police have arrested two men who allegedly tried to squeeze P50 million out of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in exchange for the support of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) in next month’s elections.
Ruben Policarpio and Anthony Tanquintic were arrested in an entrapment operation in a hotel in Mandaluyong City Tuesday afternoon with the help of an INC minister and an UNA representative.
Speaking to reporters at Camp Crame Tuesday night, UNA spokesperson and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said the two men made the offer to him through text messages on Monday.
He then reported it to the police at Camp Crame and to the INC. As part of the plan to entrap Policarpio and Tanquintic, Tiangco agreed to meet them at the hotel the next day.
Tiangco recalled that when he inquired “about the process’’ or how the suspects could deliver the votes in the May 13 computerized elections, “they said we should just give P50 million for two names (of candidates).”
It was at this point that an INC minister joined the meeting, introduced himself to the suspects, and was followed by a police team sent to make the arrest.
“They did not present identification cards when we asked for it,” Tiangco told the Inquirer in an interview Wednesday. “But definitely, they are not members of the INC.”
Tiangco said the men identified themselves in the text messages as Ka Rico and Ka Tony and claimed to be members of the INC who can secure votes for two of UNA’s senatorial candidates.
“They claimed that they got my mobile number from someone I know. As a politician, I meet a lot of people and I give my number to them. But I knew right away that the names they gave me were just aliases,” he said.
“I asked them how they were going to do it. They said they were going to contact someone at the INC, claiming they were from INC Central. When we started to talk about the money, the INC minister arrived and asked them what INC local they belonged. They couldn’t answer. It was clearly extortion that’s why we already called for the police to have them arrested,” he added.
Tiangco said he filed a complaint for estafa and swindling against the two suspects Wednesday morning.