The mayor, however, was quick to stress that he did not give in to the extortionists’ demand for protection money, but as a move to trace their identities and location, and hopefully break into the Al Khobar’s inner circles.
He revealed in his affidavit that the amount, in two equal installments, was deposited in the account of a certain Nacir Abison at the Equitable PCI Bank’s branch in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay. Gantuangco even has Abison’s account number — 1177-06531-1.
The first installment, upon the mayor’s instruction, was deposited by Insp. Benjamin Mauricio on Nov. 26. The second deposit was made on Dec. 10.
The mayor, however, has issued contradicting statements as to the source of the funds.
In his affidavit dated Dec. 17, he said the P100,000 was taken from the peace and order funds of the city government. But last Tuesday, when interviewed over radio station DXCA, Gantuangco said the money did not come from public funds.
On Nov. 26, a bomb exploded at the baggage counter of the Kidapawan Mega Center Corporation (KMCC) mall along Dayao Street, instantly killing a baggage boy and wounding seven other mall goers.
Police investigators blamed the Al Khobar group for the blast, supposedly because the city government refused to give in to the group’s demand of P100,000 in protection money on a monthly basis.
A day after the bombing, Gantuangco confirmed over radio station DXND the extortion attempt. But at that time, he said he did not give in to Al Khobar’s demand, the reason the group bombed the mall.
Now it appears the mayor did heed the extortionists’ demand when he made the first deposit on Nov. 26 even if the day after, he denied in a radio broadcast that he did not give money to Al Khobar. (Williamor A. Magbanua / MindaNews)