DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 July) — Pajeros, not Monteros.
There was a mix-up in the information on the vehicles used by the ten members of the kidnap-for-ransom group who escaped after last week’s botched ransom pay-off that ended in three of its members killed, an official of the Public Safety Command Center (PSCC) said.
Francisco Villaroman, chief of the Public Safety Command Center (PSCC) told the I-Speak Forum on Thursday that the two getaway vehicles identified by the witness were not white Montero SUVs but Mitsubishi Pajero vehicles.
Sally Chua, a Filipino-Chinese businesswoman kidnapped on July 5 in Quezon City was rescued here on July 11 in a noontime operation in a commercial bank along Claro M. Recto St.
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte immediately ordered a lockdown to prevent the suspects, allegedly riding in two white Mitsubishi Montero SUVs, from leaving the city.
Villaroman said the incident happened so fast their technicians failed to install a monitor for a closed-circuit television camera set up in the area 90 minutes before the shooting incident.
“We were quite unlucky. We could have monitored the movement of people and vehicles in the area prior to the incident,” he said.
He explained the rest of the suspects got away as authorities did not know what to look out for because of the wrong information given by the witness.
If the information had been accurate, the suspects could have easily been monitored by CCTV cameras installed in other parts of the city, he said.
“There was a misunderstanding from the ground up to the operation center. The witness was also in a state of shock when asked about the description of other vehicles carrying other perpetrators, so the information given initially was inaccurate,” the Philippine Information Agency XI quoted Villaroman as saying.
The getaway vehicles were earlier reported to be Montero Sport SUVs.
Elf, not Montero
Earlier reports said the three vehicles that brought the kidnappers and the victim from Quezon City to Davao City, were brand new white Mitsubishi Montero SUVs. As it turned out, based on Villaroman’s disclosure, there was only one Montero and two Pajeros.
The Montero vehicle was erroneously reported by various media outlets, including MindaNews, as having been registered to Nelson Doloiras of Sorsogon, with temporary plate number BW3086.
Doloiras told MindaNews in a telephone interview on Friday morning that he does not own the Montero vehicle. He said he went to the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Kidnapping Group office in Camp Crame on Thursday to personally inquire on the status of the investigation and was told there were around ten registration papers found in the Montero vehicle used by the kidnappers, including an expired registration paper of his Isuzu Elf truck, with plate number GNW 892 2010.
He said he does not know how that registration paper which expired in 2010, found its way into the Montero. He said it must have been stolen from his truck and added that the presence of several registration papers in the Montero may have been a diversionary ploy of the kidnappers (see other story: Prominent Sorsogon businessman unfairly dragged into Chua kidnapping).
Villaroman said the Montero used by the perpetrators killed in the shootout was bought in Baliuag, Bulacan and owned by someone from Angono, Rizal. Villaroman did not name the owner.
Pajero not Montero
Villaroman said it was too late to pursue the Pajero vehicles carrying the escaping suspects.
He said local authorities could have captured the other perpetrators if the witness gave the exact color, model and model of the SUVs that tailed them from Quezon City to Davao City via roll-on-roll off.
Villaroman said they now have the correct information about the perpetrators who are still subject of a massive manhunt.
He added that the kidnap-for-ransom-group operates in Metro Manila and adjoining Regions 3 and 4.
The purchase of the Montero vehicle in Baliuag, Bulacan, he said, is another indication that “the perpetrators were operating in Metro Manila and Central Luzon and not from Davao City.”
He acknowledged that one of those killed in the shootout was from South Cotabato. (MindaNews)