Two Suspects in Abduction of Former VP Pelaez son Get Life Sentence

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By Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:31:00 07/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines – A judge has sentenced to life imprisonment two of the 13 suspects in the kidnapping of former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez’s son in Cagayan de Oro City eight years ago.

Judge Manuel Barrios of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 54 handed down the sentence on Rakman Abby and Isidoro Balcita III after he found them guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

In a 19-page decision, Barrios also ordered both men to pay Enrique Fabella Pelaez, an investment banker and managing director of the Mindanao Development Bank, P1.2 million in moral and temperate damages.

Apart from Abby and Balcita, also charged were Faizal Marohombsar alias Commander Mubarak II and Commander Malvar, Ismael Marohombsar, Mohammad Achmad, Macaumbao Marohom, Cairoden Marohombsar, Rukman Sultan and several men known only by their aliases.

Faizal, the leader of the group, escaped from detention in June 2002. He was reportedly killed two months later in a shootout in Cavite province during a police operation that led to the rescue of two kidnap victims.
Achmad and Ismael, however, died while in detention while Sultan turned state witness. Macaumbao, Cairoden, and the five men known only by their aliases remain at large.

The judge pointed out that “the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention is deemed committed and consummated even if the ransom in money or otherwise is not given or received by the kidnappers. The essence of its commission is the deprivation of an individual’s liberty, and the demand for ransom constitutes a qualifying circumstance that aggravates the penalty to be imposed.”

Court records showed that the incident happened on Nov. 23, 2000 while the victim was on his way home to Malasag, Cagayan de Oro City. The kidnappers blocked his car and at gunpoint, handcuffed and blindfolded him.

The group held the victim captive for for 51 days.

According to court records, the kidnappers were tipped off by Balcita, then the MDB internal auditor, who told them about “his wealthy friend” whose family would be able to pay a P100 million ransom.

Balcita had provided the kidnappers information about the victim such as his whereabouts, itinerary and directions to his house.
There was also an agreement that half of the ransom would go to Balcita, and the rest would be divided among the other suspects.

The kidnappers took the victim to two different safe houses in Iligan City while negotiating with Patrick Absin, another MDB officer, for the ransom. The suspects also gave strict instructions for Absin to keep the media and military out of the matter, not knowing that he had already asked them for help.

Authorities then monitored Absin’s negotiations with the kidnappers that dragged on for almost two months. Part of the ransom was paid and in 2001, Sultan helped Pelaez escape after Faizal ordered the former to kill the victim.

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