Former Surigao town mayor: I was kidnapped

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/19 June) — A former mayor of Placer town in Surigao del Norte yesterday declared he was kidnapped when he went missing late last month.

Charry T. Mangacop, who is recuperating at the Miranda Family Hospital in this city after his release over the weekend, said several armed men abducted him around 7:30am on May 30 as he boarded his car outside his residence cum commercial building on Rizal Street here.

He said that as he sat in the car the kidnappers, who were hiding at the backseat, strangled him with a belt and punched his belly.

Grimacing in pain, Mangacop said he tried to get out of his Montero SUV but the kidnappers pressed the lock button of the car.

He recalled being pulled to the backseat and hogtied. The kidnappers sealed his mouth with packaging tape and put a bonnet on his face, he added.

“Mata lang nako ang wala macoveran,” (Only my eyes was not fully covered) he said.

Mangacop said they went straight to a mountainous area between Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities.

“We walked several miles and then I was made to ride a horse. We climbed a mountain until we arrived at the kidnappers’ hideout,” he said in the vernacular, adding he was always fed with dried fish and a small amount of rice.

He said he was tied all the time and there seemed to be no way out of the kidnappers’ den.

“If you want to urinate, you would be given a bowl” he said.

Mangacop said he had to pull a rope to let his captors know what he wanted, water for instance.

It took Mangacop’s wife, Luzviminda, seven days to know that he was kidnapped. The kidnappers called to demand money for his safe release, and warned her not to report the incident to authorities.

The kidnappers, Mangacop said, initially demanded P300 million in ransom. But he told them he could not afford that amount, citing the losses he incurred when the New People’s Army burned several of his heavy equipment last year. He said the kidnappers settled for P5 million.

“I told the kidnappers, I can raise the amount (P5 million) but please return him to me,” an emotional Luzviminda said.

Aside from their own money, Luzviminda asked relatives and close friends to contribute. She also borrowed some amount.

Luzviminda along with brother-in-law Digs Mangacop went to Iligan City, where on June 16, the kidnappers told her to proceed to a fast food outlet in the downtown area. There she was approached by a “soft-spoken, good-looking man who took the money.

Her husband, however, was only released at around 10pm. She saw him get off from a ramshackle taxi.

“I couldn’t identify him at first glance. He was pale and thinner. He stank. His clothes were dirty,” she said.

Meanwhile, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Surigao City Chapter president Alfonso S. Casurra, the counsel of the victim said he wanted the police to provide security to Mangacop and his family.

Casurra said the kidnappers might get back at them.

Supt. Jonathan G. Trogello, city police chief declined to comment on the incident saying the Criminal Investigation Detection and Group (CIDG) was handling the case.

MindaNews went to the CIDG but its chief, Senior Inspector Gerson A. Soliven was in Dinagat Island.

Mangacop served as mayor of Placer from 2007 to 2010. He sought reelection in 2010 but lost to Felimon Napuli. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)