GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 February) — A buy and sell dealer of used cars has reportedly sought refuge in the house of Rep. Manny Pacquiao following reports that he was placed under surveillance for selling a stolen Starex van to a village councilor in General Santos City.
Mohammad ‘Bong’ Akia, former head of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao, was seen disembarking from a commercial plane from Manila two weeks ago, and immediately boarded the waiting vehicle of Pacquiao who flew in on the same flight.
Reports said Akia accompanied Pacquiao in the latter’s residence and has not been seen since.
Pacquiao cannot be reached for comment. He is now in the US promoting his June 9 fight against American Timothy Bradley.
Pacquiao’s laywer, Francisco ‘Bong’ Gacal said he was not aware Akia was in Pacquiao’s residence.
Gacal, younger brother of long time Pacquiao lawyer Franklin ‘Jeng’ Gacal Jr, said he will have to confirm the reports with the eight-time world boxing champion.
“Knowing Congressman (Pacquiao) and Jinky, they do not allow Gensan (General Santos) guests to stay in their mansion,” Gacal said even as he said he will inform Pacquiao about the rumor that Akia is still holed up inside the residence of the congressman.
Last week, members of the Highway Patrol Group led by Senior Supt. Greg Pimentel said they discovered that Akia was able to secure licenses for 29 firearms and handguns which have since been revoked in January.
Akia was given enough time to surrender the guns in his possession but according to a source who requested anonymity, some of these sophisticated high-powered firearms were already sold to prominent personalities and businessmen in General Santos.
According to PNP-Highway Patrol Group director, Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, the plate number of the Hyundai Starex van was traced to actor Luis ‘Lucky’ Manzano who reportedly surrendered the plate after deciding to convert his Nissan Sentra, to which the plate was first issued, into a taxi unit.
The Starex van, which was seized from Barangay San Isidro councilman Joseph Salangsang, was confirmed stolen from a businessman in Angeles City.
Authorities are still investigating reports that at least two other sports utility vehicles were also reportedly sold by Akia to an elected official in General Santos.
The Starex van was among the 26 suspected stolen vehicles recovered by the PNP Highway Patrol Group in General Santos and Bacolod City this month. One of them, a Toyota Fortuner, is reportedly owned by Sarangani Vice Gov. Steve Solon.
In a report posted on www.journal.com.ph on February 26, PNP-HPG chief Espina called on Army and police officials to call the attention of subordinates who are serving as Akia’s bodyguards.
Akia is facing charges of violation of the Anti-Carnapping Act and the Anti-Fencing Law after PNP-HPG agents recovered 26 stolen motor vehicles traced to him.
The Journal report said that police personnel were ready to arrest Akia at the General Santos City airport morning of February 11 but when Akia noticed the presence of policemen, he hurriedly went to see Pacquiao, who had just arrived on board a commercial plane from Manila and was walking on his way to his Hummer vehicle with “Pacman” special plate.
“Officers sent to arrest Akia said that he suddenly approached the boxing champ and talked with him before rushing to the left back seat of the Hummer. Police were asked not to arrest Akia in the presence of Pacquiao,” the Journal report said.
It added that Akia “stayed at the mansion of the lawmaker in Bgy. Lagao, General Santos City, and later joined him in going to his palatial house in Kiamba, Sarangani.”
Akia was earlier tagged as a key personality behind a well-entrenched car theft syndicate in the country.
Director-General Nicanor A. Bartolome of the Philippine National Police announced last Thursday the busting of Akia’s syndicate which he described as a “well-entrenched car theft ring” buying stolen motor vehicles in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon and transporting them to Mindanao where they are given fraudulent Land Transportation Office registration papers and license plates.
Not the first time
This is not the first time Akia has been dragged into a controversy.
More than a year ago, he reportedly shot a young man inside a popular bar in General Santos City over a pretty singer. A couple of years earlier, he also figured in a controversial shooting incident which hit a visiting seaman in the groin.
In addition, his name was also dragged in the controversial cutting of mangroves in nearby Sarangani province to pave way for the construction of a resort and was also reportedly into illegal mining activities in Maitum town of the same province.
When he was PASG chief, Akia reportedly ordered a raid on a photo lab establishment for reportedly selling smuggled camera items.
The owner vehemently denied the allegations. (Edwin Espejo/MindaNews contributor, writes for the asiancorrespondent.com)