PNOC security guard abducted

Melvin Claro was with his wife Sonia when he was snatched at gunpoint by three armed men and ordered to board a stainless jeep without a plate number.

Sonia, in an interview, said she was certain her husband's abductors were members of an intelligence agency of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The local PNP, however, denied involvement in the incident.

"I still have to check with other units. As far as I'm concerned, I don't know anything about that," said Chief Insp. Leo Ajero, city PNP director.

Sonia said she could not think of any reason why authorities were after her husband except that "he is married to me who is a relative of a suspected bomber."

Sonia is a first cousin of Muhalidin Hassan who was arrested on Nov. 22, 2007 for his alleged participation in the KMCC Mall bombing that occurred on the same day.

The bombing killed a mall employee and injured eight others.

Initial reports from the intelligence community in Southwestern Mindanao claimed that Claro is connected to an extortion group that has demanded money from several business establishments in Mindanao.

He is suspected to be the owner of a bank account through which a bus company based in Davao City has supposedly been channeling protection money.

Sonia has already sought help from the women's group Gabriela in North Cotabato and the local chapter of the Ulama-Priests-Imams Forum (UPIF).

Sonia's father, Abdulaziz Hassan, is a top official of the UPIF in North Cotabato.

"If somebody is, indeed, at fault, the arresting officers must show warrant of arrest and tell him about the crime he committed. What they did to Claro was a clear violation of that government policy and his right as a person," said Ruby Padilla-Sison, Gabriela provincial chair.

The abduction, she said, was done in broad daylight and was witnessed by many tricycle drivers, bystanders, and even commuters.

"Yet, they could not do anything.   They fear for their lives.   Is there already breakdown of law and order here in our city?" she asked.

The abduction came a day after an improvised explosive device was recovered in neighboring Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat.
The bomb was believed to have been assembled in a room at a lodging house in Isulan.

Police and military operatives arrested in a village in Isulan a couple that occupied the room shortly before the explosive was recovered.

Authorities believed the suspects planned to place the bomb in one of the buses plying the Isulan-Tacurong route.  (MindaNews)