SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/24 January) – Shoddy investigation work and even questionable actions of the police have spoiled and contaminated the pieces of evidence in the kidnapping of a Surigao City banker two years ago, an investigator who took part in the early part of the probe said.
Police Officer 2 Nomer Isidro Sabacan of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Surigao del Norte said they were surprised that probers did not properly handle Johnson C. Cuiting’s car which the kidnappers used as getaway vehicle.
Police recovered the victim’s car in Barangay Silop in this city.
The CIDG conducted a separate investigation the day after the kidnapping of Cuiting, then the president of the Rural Bank of Placer.
Sabacan said the investigators should have gathered pieces of evidence right where Cuiting’s white Toyota Hi-Lux pickup car was found.
He said he finds it irregular that the city police crime laboratory only conducted extraction of evidence at the city hall compound.
“Sira na ang evidensya at hindi lang sira, contaminated na (Evidence has been destroyed and not only destroyed but contaminated),” he told MindaNews.
Cuiting was abducted by four unidentified armed men inside his house at Ceniza Heights Subdivision, Surigao City, in the presence of his wife and house helpers evening of January 7, 2009.
Sabacan said the case would have been solved outright were it not for the alleged interference of a former police official in Surigao del Norte.
“We could have helped each other in solving this case, but the worst thing that happened was, he seemed to be pointing his fingers at us, that we (CIDG) were the ones who did the crime,” he said.
MindaNews withheld the identity of the police official because he could not be reached for comment as of this writing.
On the other hand, Chief Supt. Reynaldo S. Rafal, Caraga police regional director recently ordered the revival of the investigation of the Cuiting kidnapping case.
”I have directed my R2 and R7 to revive the Cuiting Case,” Rafal said.
Superintendent David Yalong Ombao, former Surigao del Norte police provincial director had said they were “101-percent” sure of solving the case.
Ombao got transferred to another post a year ago but the Cuiting case has remained unsolved.
Cuiting’s family, meanwhile, remains optimistic that he is still alive.
Ombao’s successors, Superintendents Ruben B. Delos Santos and Gilbert Dela Cruz Cruz said Ombao did not turn over the case folder of the Cuiting case.
Newly installed provincial police director Emmanuel Talento had yet to comment on the case.
The victim’s mother and Rural Bank of Placer founder, Candida Custodio-Cuiting, died last year without seeing his son again.
On September 15, 2009, almost a year after the crime, Cuiting’s sisters held a press conference to express disappointment over the “stalled” investigation and to denounce the many alleged failings of the police in the investigation.
Nenita Cuiting-Carvajal suspected that the kidnapping may have something to do with their bank business.
Carvajal said that she, their mother, and her siblings were original founders and owners of the Rural Bank of Placer.
The bank started with only one branch but grew to nearly a dozen branches over the years.
Carvajal said she finds it suspicious that the kidnappers, who demanded a P10-million ransom, stopped communicating with the Cuiting sisters after his postpaid mobile phone subscription, then in the hands of the abductors, was ordered cut off. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)