Issue of October 8, 2017
Mt. Province

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Men charged for barricading, coercion in Pico-Lamtang road
by Ofelia C. Empian

Five men are facing various charges after they were recently arrested for setting up barricade along the Pico-Lamtang Road and for allegedly collecting fees from passing truckers along the national road.

C/Insp. Benson Macli-ing, chief of La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, said they have filed before the Benguet Provincial Prosecutor’s Office charges of grave coercion, unjust vexation and for violation of anti-obstruction of public road ordinance of the municipality against the five individuals.

He said the personnel of LTMPS arrested the five individuals on Oct. 2 when they were caught in the act of collecting fees from truckers plying the area. He said they have set up two steel barricades and a checkpoint in the area obstructing the flow of traffic.

Macli-ing said some truckers came to the police to complain about the fees being collected from them when passing the section of the national road.

“They have no legal basis or authority to conduct checkpoint in the area. They are not even persons in authority to do so,” Macli-ing said, adding that the road remains a national road until a court order states otherwise.

The arrested individuals are under the employ of Dwight Bello III, who claimed that part of the national road has encroached upon his property in the area.

Bello claimed that he has right over the portion of the road, citing the recent joint survey conducted by the Department of Public Works and Highways, staff of the La Trinidad LGU, and his legal team. He further claimed that the result of the joint survey has confirmed that the portion of the Pico-Lamtang Road has encroached his property.

With this, Bello earlier directed motorists, particularly truckers, plying the route to get a privilege pass from him. He said this is his way “of exercising his legal rights” on his property.

On Friday afternoon, Bello said they have posted bail for the release of his security personnel. He said they are mulling of filing cases against the action of the LTMPS on his men.

“We have many legal options against the PNP and my legal counsel will file the appropriate charges against all of them,” he said.

He added that they have talked with La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda and the municipal legal officer for his plans on his property. He said the giving of “privilege pass” to truckers will be put on temporary hold.

He said they will seek clarification from the court whether their actions upon his property are legal or not.

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