Justice 14 years after kidnap-slay

Four ex-cops and their civilian accomplice were convicted and given life imprisonment for the kidnap-slay 14 years ago of Taiwanese victim Michael H. Chan, alias Chiu Yu Hung.
In her 64-page decision, presiding judge Janet Abergos Samar of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 219 found PO3 Allan M. Verana; PO1 Candido S. Vallejo; PO1 Joel G. Tapec; PO1 Alexander E. Pangilinan and Ferdinand R. Gacusan, alias Balong, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Chan’s kidnap-homicide.
Two other accused policemen, PO2 Daniel G. Mabborang and PO1 Ely Ignacio Frias Jr., and John Doe, alias Ogie, are at large and their cases archived pending their arrest or surrender.
The decision was promulgated on May 29 in the presence of Assistant State Prosecutor Olive Torrevillas, officers of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group and officers of the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) represented by founding chairperson Teresita Ang See, past president, Walter Sy and court watch representative Wilson Cua.
On Sept. 15, 2005, armed men forcibly took Chan while on board his vehicle along Katipunan Road in Quezon City. He was taken into the kidnappers’ vehicle. At the time, he was with his partner, Mary Ann Aradana, who witnessed Chan’s abduction and saw his kidnappers.
A P6-million ransom was demanded for his safe release. During negotiation, the partner’s initial counteroffer was P500,000. The kidnapers stopped negotiation. They eventually killed Chan and dumped the body in Brgy. Inarawan, Antipolo City.
Aradana sought help from the MRPO which promptly assisted her in coordinating with the PNP’s Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER) unit and guided her during the negotiation.
Investigation by the PACER revealed that Verana, Vallejo, Mabborang, Tapec, Pangilinan, Gacusan and Ogie – believed to belong to the notorious Doce Pares Gang – participated in the kidnap and killing. In two extrajudicial confessions, Verana admitted his participation and that of his co-accused in the execution of the kidnapping for ransom with homicide against the victim.
With this confession, a complaint for kidnapping for ransom with homicide was filed against all the accused with the Department of Justice on March 28, 2006.
Aradana positively identified all of the accused who denied the allegations and claimed that the victim was taken during a legitimate police anti-drug operation. The claim was disproved during the trial when the defense failed to prove that there was a scheduled police operation.
The judge, in her decision, emphasized that the suspects Vallejo, Verana, Tapec and Pangilinan acted on their own in the kidnap-slay case. Moreover, the accused pointed to one another as the culprits in carrying out the different aspects of the kidnapping case. As well, they are from different police units with no mandate to do a joint operation. They also failed to coordinate with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
The last suspect to be arrested, Pangilinan, was apprehended by then PNP chief Reynaldo de la Rosa in Thailand. He said he helped in the planning but did not participate in the actual crime. But the court sided with the prosecution, which said the cops had worked together to pull off the crime.
Aradana, despite financial difficulties, traveled from the province to attend each hearing. She received funds from MRPO to help pay for transportation and lodging.
Her brother Roberto, who was assisting her and was to appear as one of the witnesses, was a casualty of typhoon Yolanda, which devastated Tacloban in November 2013.
The MRPO is an organization made up of former kidnap victims and their relatives. The members are happy that their painstaking efforts in monitoring this case paid off and the suspects were convicted.
The court decision “proved that crime does not pay. The suspects were accused of many other crimes of extortion, robbery, murder and kidnapping but only this one case prospered, and they were at last made to pay for their crimes,” Ang See told media.
The case changed judges several times, causing delays. It was fast-tracked as soon as Samar took over only a year ago.
The MRPO thanked her for reviewing the memoranda painstakingly to appreciate all the facts of the case.
The MRPO specially commended Torrevillas, of the DOJ National Prosecution Service, for her patience and hard work in handling the case from the beginning, and for Aradana who chose to continue to pursue the case, facing down the accused cops.

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