A former teacher of the city government-run Universidad de Manila (UdM) could face fraud charges after he was caught asking fees from applicants who had flunked the admission test but still wanted to get into the university.
Police identified the suspect as Garry Abello, a former mathematics teacher at the UdM. He was arrested as he was escorting one of his "clients" inside the school grounds on Monday.
According to Chief Insp. Bernie Irinco, head of the police detachment at Manila City Hall, Abello promised several applicants that he would have their enrollment papers at UdM processed in exchange for a fee.
"He would approach students who wanted to study at UdM, specifically those who failed the entrance test," Irinco said. "He would promise to get them into the school for a fee of P600 (S$18)."
Abello was arrested with the help of UdM officials. Seized from him were a stack of documents which Irinco said came from 38 students who had enlisted his help in enrolling in the university.
On the first page of the stapled sets of documents which included copies of academic transcripts, certificates of good moral character, and barangay and medical certificates was a pink slip of paper stating that the student had passed the UdM entrance exam.
"This pink slip is the admission slip and UdM officials have confirmed to us that these are fakes," Irinco said. "Officials said that the paper used was paler [compared to the official document] and the signature of the official had only been stamped. The official document should be signed by the university official."
He added that Abello could be charged with estafa for defrauding students on top of falsifying public documents. At press time, the police were still trying to determine how many students had paid money to the suspect.
Irinco said they had learned of Abello's scheme through a student who heard of the services he was offering through word of mouth. However, the student decided to report him to the police after Abello asked for payment.
"He promised the student that he would file his documents for a fee. At that point, the student felt suspicious and reported it to us," he said.
Irinco urged Abello's other victims to come forward as he said investigators were looking into whether he had accomplices inside the university.
"He was a former math teacher who was fired last year after officials had found out that he gave falsified documents regarding his degree. We suspect that because university staff know him, he was allowed entry. But we are determining whether there are insiders helping him as well," he said.
For his part, Mayor Joseph Estrada said that Abello's victims would be allowed to retake the UdM entrance test. They can enroll if they pass it but it will be the end of the road for them if they fail, he added.