Alleged BIR, SEC fixer nabbed in sting ops

Artemio Dumlao - Philstar.com
Alleged BIR, SEC fixer nabbed in sting ops
Lioric Cervantes (middle, in black polo) being arrested by NBI-CAR agents inside a popular coffee shop at a mall chain in Baguio City on April 12, 2024.
Philstar.com / Artemio Dumlao

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — An alleged fixer claiming close ties to top officials of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was apprehended in a sting operation Friday morning.

Agents from the National Bureau of Investigation-Cordillera, headed by NBI-CAR Assistant Director and lawyer Daniel D. Daganzo, apprehended Lioric Cervantes, 24, of Makati City.

Cervantes was arrested after accepting a sum of P750,000.00 in cash containing fluorescent powder, handed over by his victim within a popular mall establishment. The exchange was part of an alleged scheme to remove the complainant’s firm from the SEC blacklist.

The complainant, a senior official of a major private firm in La Union who prefers to remain unnamed, sought assistance from the NBI-CAR when Cervantes demanded P750,000 to address supposed deficiencies at the SEC.

According to the complainant, the SEC blacklisting was fabricated by Cervantes as a means to extort more money. He revealed that he had been defrauded of a total of P4,000,000 in three separate instances, where he handed over large sums for purported "fixing" services, including addressing issues with the BIR.

Cervantes, along with his associates Kyle Dean Tabayocyoc and Cristopher Leo Maala, who transported them from La Union to Baguio City, will face charges of estafa.

Tabayocyoc faces charges for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition after two Glock 9mm pistols, magazines and ammunition were discovered in his possession.

NBI-CAR investigators disclosed that Cervantes, orchestrated by Tabayocyoc (whose wife is the complainant firm’s accountant), falsely claimed to have connections and influence with several high-ranking officials including BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui Jr., SEC Chairman Emilio B. Aquino, and others.

Upon Cervantes' arrest, a pre-signed acknowledgment receipt allegedly signed by Chairman Aquino was given to the complainant, indicating that the P750,000 was payment for resolving non-compliance issues with SEC requirements.

However, BIR District 3 (La Union) Revenue District Officer Ventura confirmed that Cervantes, Tabayocyo, and Maala had no official ties to them.

Ventura has submitted an affidavit urging formal charges against the trio and any other syndicate members who misuse his and other BIR officials' names.

NBI-CAR is awaiting certifications from SEC officials to determine if Cervantes, Tabayocyoc, Maala and their associates are connected to the SEC.

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