by Roselle R. Aquino and Arnell Ozaeta

BINAN CITY, Laguna — The Biñan City police have invited for questioning  a suspected group of hired goons that allegedly harassed residents and the leaders of an incumbent and mayoralty candidate in this city. 

The 32 alleged hired goons reportedly introduced themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and other government law enforment agencies.

Biñan City Mayor Arman Dimaguila who rushed to the scene said the group harassed the residents, his coordinators, leaders and barangay chairmen during a caucus, and a political event before authorities cornered them in Barangay San Vicente on Sunday morning.

Dimaguila, along with Gel Alonte, a vice-mayoralty candidate, and congressional candidate Len Alonte said during a press conference on Sunday afternoon that the members of the group are not residents of this city, came from several Batangas towns and believed to be hired by their rival politicians.

He named Mike Yatco, a candidate for Congressman for the Lone District of Biñan City, and opponent of reelectionist Len Alonte, as the one who allegedly employs these goons. 

The said group was seen roaming around the vicinity of the barangay hall of San Vicente. This information reached the city mayor’s office which immediately sought the help of the city police. The SWAT team responded to arrest the suspects.

Dimaguila cited that there were three complainants including a policeman, who was a victim of gun-grabbing, and two village chairmen who experienced harassment from the group.

Dimaguila also said that recently, he received information about the arrival of unidentified men, following complaints from his leaders that they were being harassed by an unidentified five unarmed men who forcibly barged into the house of the political leader. And the 27, all riding in motorcycles, arrived.

Dimaguila added that two of the arrested suspects have a pending record of harassment during the 2019 elections. They were the same men whom Dimaguila said were seen with his opponent during their campaign sorties. 

Dimaguila appealed to his rivals not to employ violence and urged them not to resort to harassing the people.

Lawyer Noel Rivera, legal counsel of Rep. Mike Yatco, vehemently denied the accussation of Dimaguila.

“Hindi po tutuo yon, ang mga nahuli kahapon ay mga pollwatchers ni Cong. Mike Yatco na duly identified at authorized by Cong. Yatco and party. May mga hawak po silang mga identification cards” Atty. Rivera said

“Yung unang limang hinuli kahapon ay papunta ng Barangay San Vicente para mag monitor ng election violation at para din dumalo sa event ng Tingog Partylist” Rivera added.

Rivera said he has great respect with the National Bureau of Investigation and other government agencies when accused of illegaly using the names of the agencies.

“Paano naman sila magpapakilalang mga NBI when they are not. Before, Cong Yatco was connected with the NBI but he already terminated his relationship with the agency, kaya yon ang ginagamit nila” Rivera explained.

Rivera is set to post bail for the arrested individuals who are facing charges of usurpation of authority, obstruction of justice and direct assault.