By Edwin Espejo
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 (PASG) in Central Mindanao, was reportedly seen disembarking from the airplane last week and immediately boarded the waiting vehicle of Pacquiao who flew in on the same flight. Reports said Akia accompanied Pacquiao to his 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.
Laywer Francisco ‘Bong’ Gacal said he was not aware that Akia was in Pacquiao’s residence last week. 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 revealed that he would inform Pacquiao about the rumor of Akia holed up inside his residence. The younger Gacal is now also a private lawyer for Pacquiao.
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 the nearby Sarangani province to pave way for the construction of a resort; he was also reportedly involved in illegal mining activities in Maitum town of the same province.
When he was the PASG chief, he allegedly ordered a raid on a photo lab establishment for reportedly selling smuggled camera items. The owner vehemently denied the allegations.
Also this week, members of the Highway Patrol Group led by Sr. Supt. Greg Pimentel said that they discovered that Akia was able to secure licenses for 29 firearms and handguns which have since been revoked. 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 reports, the plate number of the Hyundai Starex van was traced to 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 to Brgy San Isidro councilman Joseph Salangsang, was confirmed stolen from a businessman in Angeles City. Authorities are still investigating the information that at least two other sports utility vehicles (SUVs) were also reportedly sold by Akia to a local 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.