Raps filed vs. four in sugar heist, identified ‘mastermind’ at large

The two drivers detained at the Bago City Police Station*Nico Delfin photo

Qualified theft charges were filed against four suspects in the P3 million sugar heist before the Bago City Prosecutor’s Office Wednesday afternoon, September 27, PLt. Col. Jay Malong, Bago police chief, said.

The qualified theft charges were filed by the owner of the sugar against two wing van drivers and their two cohorts, one of whom is believed to be the mastermind, Malong said.

The owner of the wing vans is also filing separate charges for qualified theft and carnapping against the four on Thursday, the police chief added.

The charges were filed against Jhujiet Arsenio of Pototan, Iloilo, and John Michael Oryen of Cadiz City, the drivers of the two wing vans containing 1,000 bags of sugar valued at P3 million, which they claimed were hijacked by five armed men in La Carlota City on Monday night.

The drivers are detained at the Bago City Police Station while a manhunt for their two companions who are from Negros is ongoing, Malong said.

The two drivers, who claimed that they were tied up by the hijackers, were rescued from the wing vans that were parked in Barangay Pandanon, Murcia, at about 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The police later discovered that no hijacking took place and on further investigation recovered 965 sacks of the stolen sugar at the old warehouse of Negros Kabisig Livelihood Foundation in Barangay Busay, Bago City, 2 p.m. Tuesday, Malong said.

They are still investigating where the 35 unaccounted sacks of sugar were left by the culprits, he said.

They discovered that the hijacking was a hoax as the two drivers’ statements were not consistent and their demeanor was suspicious, he said.

There are also no known groups in Negros Occidental that have been staging hijacks, Malong added.

Malong said that when the drivers were confronted with the GPS tracker report of the movement of the wing vans that was not consistent with their claims, Oryen offered to accompany the police to recover the sugar.

The person whom the culprits asked to find a warehouse and those who unloaded sugar in Bago said they only discovered that it was stolen when the news broke out, Malong said.

They are willing to testify against the four who brought the sugar to the warehouse, Malong said.

One of the suspects who is at-large previously worked as truck driver and has knowledge on how cargo is transported, he said.

The police investigation showed that the two drivers picked up the sugar at the Binalbagan Isabela Sugar Company (BISCOM) on Monday morning and were supposed to head for the BREDCO port in Bacolod City where the wing vans would be loaded onto a vessel bound for Iloilo.

The drivers stopped in Hinigaran to pick up the money to pay for their boat fare to Iloilo and were joined by one of their accomplices when they proceeded to Pontevedra where they stopped for about six hours, Malong said.

They were joined by their second accomplice in Pontevedra and proceeded to Busay, Bago, to unload the sugar from 11 p.m. Monday to 1 a.m. Tuesday. The empty wing vans were then driven to Murcia where the two drivers were tied up and blindfolded by their accomplices to make it appear that they were victims of a hijack, Malong said.*

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