Sema denies allegations he’s behind trader’s abduction

KIDAPAWAN CITY  (MindaNews/05 February) – Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema has denied allegations he was behind the January 8 kidnapping of a Filipino-Chinese trader there.

The victim, 54-year-old Adin Yu, owner of the city’s oldest hardware store, was snatched January 8 at the parking area of the Estosan Hotel. He and his wife had just come out of the casino and were about to open the car doors when the armed men grabbed him. His wife managed to escape.
Sema told a press conference in Cotabato City Friday that he has nothing to do with the abduction of Yu and his inclusion in the information sheet as among those responsible for the offense was politically motivated.

“If I have not perpetrated any kidnapping when I was still an MNLF guerilla, eating only once a day, hiding in mosquito-infested jungles for a long time, there is no reason for me to get involved in such a crime now that I can eat three modest meals a day and sleep comfortably in my house,” he said.

The names of Sema and his known loyal followers, former City Administrator Ismael Daulog, Mayor Salaban Diocolano of Kabuntalan town in Maguindanao, Rolly Solano, and Sukarno Sema, an incumbent city councilor, were included in the list suspects the police recommended to be charged in connection with Yu’s kidnapping.

“Our names were not included in the first information sheet that was submitted to the prosecutor. We were listed as among the suspects in a subsequent request by the police to have the first information sheet amended,” Sema lamented.
Diocolano said he was stunned to learn he was implicated in the abduction of Yu.
“How can that be when I have even repeatedly helped the police and military work out the rescue of kidnap victims that were brought by their captors to my town,” Diocolano said.

Sema declined to name who could be behind their inclusion in the list of suspects in the Yu abduction which the police submitted to the city prosecutor.

“Meantime, we shall focus on how to clear our names out, the legal way,” Sema said.

The city’s incumbent mayor, Japal Guiani, Jr., who chairs the Cotabato City Peace and Order Council, is a known bitter political adversary of Sema. He was Sema’s vice mayor until the 2010 elections.

The city’s former police director, Senior Supt. Willie Dangane, who was relieved from his post last February 1, told a press conference in Guiani’s office last week about the implication of “incumbent local officials” in the abduction of Yu and in previous kidnappings here prior to their submission of the complaint sheet to the city prosecutor.

“Worse, the  prosecutor did not even bother to let us submit ourselves for a preliminary investigation as a requisite for an extensive evaluation of the complaint before deciding on whether there is, or there is no probable cause to prosecute us,” Daulog, a retired police officer, said. (Malu Manar/MindaNews)