KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/18 Dec) – Four suspects in Thursday’s kidnapping of an eight-year old girl and the killing of her father in Pigcawayn, North Cotabato, have been charged by the police for kidnapping with murder.
The four are former operatives of the Pentagon-kidnap-for ransom gang, Senior Inspector Abello Jungaya, Pigcawayan police chief, said on Friday.
He identified one of the suspects as Jomar Ulangkaya, 24, of Barangay Gang, Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao. Ulangkaya was arrested in Barangay South Manuangan, some three kilometers from the town center, at around 6:30 a.m. Friday.
The identities of the other two suspects have been withheld on police request while the hunt is ongoing.
The police in Pigcawayan filed the complaint before the office of Prosecutor Jasper Lumacad in Midsayap, North Cotabato on Friday, a day after the kidnapping of the girl, a third grader at a public elementary school in Pigcawayn, and the killing of her father who tried to rescue her.
Investigation showed that three armed men perpetrated the crime in front of the residence of the girl’s family. The family is reportedly engaged in the trading of agricultural products.
The girl, who was to be driven to her school by the father for a Christmas party, was forced into a gray vehicle bearing plate number MAD 808 but upon reaching Barangay South Manuangan, the driver, later identified as Abdul Kasim, lost control and hit the steel railing on the side of the national highway, leading to the arrest of another suspect.
Jungaya said Ulangkaya was arrested after the 40th Infantry Battalion of the Army and his unit, including police operatives from the towns of Libungan, Midsayap, Aleosan, Pikit, and Kabacan launched hot pursuit operations that led to the rescue of the kidnap victim.
Kasim, driver of the get-away vehicle, also a resident of Barangay Gang in Sultan Kudarat, died in a hospital in Cotabato City.
Police later found Kasim on the list of wanted persons of the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (PACER) in Southwestern Mindanao.
Police said Kasim was the team leader of the splinter group of the Pentagon kidnap for ransom gan, according to sources from the intelligence community.
“We stayed in the area from 5 p.m., of Thursday until the next day until such time we rescued the girl and arrested the suspect. We believe the suspects and their victim were still in the area so we did not leave the place. And our efforts paid well,” said North Cotabato Governor Lala Taliño-Mendoza.
Mendoza joined the police and Army in their search for the victim and thanked the community for their vigilance and cooperation.
“We received too many information coming from the villagers themselves. These people tipped us of the victim’s presence in the area,” she said.
Jungaya said they saw the victim being dragged by the suspects as they fled towards the Liguasan marshland. When they saw the victim drop to the ground, the exchange of fire took place.
They cornered one of the suspects, while the other two fled towards the marsh, said Jungaya.
The kidnap victim, according Mendoza, “is safe now in the custody of the police somewhere in North Cotabato.”
Since August, two other members of the Chinese-Filipino business community had been kidnapped separately in Cotabato City but were later released after they reportedly paid ransom. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)