GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 August) – Unidentified men seized the wife and daughter of a wealthy trader here while reportedly attending mass in a village parish church on Sunday evening, but police and local officials immediately imposed a “news blackout” on the incident.
Initial reports said the victims, who were identified as Dina Tan Dumaran, 25, and three year-old daughter Sophia, were abducted by unknown suspects at around 6 p.m. inside the St. Michael’s Parish Church in Barangay City Heights here.
But City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio and top local police officials have refused to issue any comment to the media regarding the matter.
Custodio, who attended a security conference at the city police headquarters inside Camp Fermin Lira here on Monday, only said they were imposing a news blackout about the matter.
“I can’t confirm or deny anything,” the mayor told reporters.
Sources said the Dumaran family, who owns a popular steakhouse and a gasoline station here, was attending an early evening mass when the incident happened.
While the mass was ongoing, Dina reportedly asked permission from husband Dexter to just go to the comfort room along with their daughter Sophia but the two have not returned since.
The family reportedly brought the matter to the attention of local authorities only around midnight on Sunday.
Chief Insp. Lorenzo Henares III, police station no. 4 chief, initially admitted Monday morning that they received a report about the incident but said they could not yet make any confirmation about the matter.
He said they also responded to the area after the incident was reported to them.
But Senior Supt. Cedric Train, city police director, later told a local television crew that they did not receive any report on the reported kidnapping.
“Di ko alam ang report na yan. Wala kaming official report na ganyan (I’m not aware of that report. We don’t have any official report about that),” the police official said.
On Monday evening, City Councilor Dante Vicente, chair of the city council’s peace and order committee, issued a confirmation on the reported kidnapping and gave assurance that the city government has been exerting efforts to immediately resolve the matter.
Vicente, who is a former radio anchor here, said in a radio interview that police authorities have been also trying to reach out to the victims’ family but could not establish any contact with them so far.
The Dumaran residence in Provido Subdivision in Barangay City Heightshere has reportedly remained closed and no one has been taking the calls made by the police, he said.
Reports came out that the kidnappers had initially demanded an P8-million ransom for the safe release of the victims but he said this could not be confirmed. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)