Case of missing sabungeros now has directions- PNP Chief

The latest arrests of the six suspects in the case of missing sabungeros will give the Philippine National Police investigation a direction to its mastermind.

This was how PNP Chief P/General Benjamin Acorda viewed the latest development to an almost three-year case that somehow would lead to the identification of the mastermind and others responsible for the crime.

“With this development, the investigation will have a direction and hopefully this will convince, or this would encourage other witnesses to be dedicated to providing information,” Acorda said when he guested at the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.

Acorda was referring to the arrest of security guards Julie Patidongan, Gleer Codilla, Mark Carlo Zabala, Virgilio Bayog, Johnry Consolacion, and Roberto Matillano Jr. in two safe houses in Parañaque City.

He added said they are also hopeful that the arrest of six suspects will convince, or encourage other witnesses to provide information.

The Chief PNP also hinted that some of the six arrested suspects are willing to divulge further information on the matter.

Acorda said they are hoping that the suspects would cooperate in the investigation for the PNP to finally identify the file charges against the mastermind and other suspects.

“The most effective way to connect the mastermind is the suspects themselves. So I am hoping that they will talk,” Acorda said.

“There are some indications that they would talk but we just want to wait and anything that they will say is of course needs the assistance of a lawyer,” he added.

The suspects were arrested on Friday in Parañaque City after the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group located their whereabouts through an informant and following a two-month surveillance operation.

The six suspects were former security guards of the Manila Arena and we’re listed as respondents for six counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the abduction of six cockfighting players.

Acorda said two other people were collared and are now facing obstruction of justice for providing shelter to the six suspects.

The abduction at the Manila Arena was among the series of cases of kidnapping of 34 cockfighting players. Police earlier said the kidnapping was related to allegations of game-fixing for online sabong during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other end, the families of missing saunders John Claude Inonog, Rondel Cristorum, Mark Joseph Velasco, Rowel Gomez, and brothers James Baccay and Marlon Baccay filed formal complaints against the six security officers at the Manila Arena over their disappearance in January 2022.

Complaints for six counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention were filed on March 18, 2022, against the six suspects before the Department of Justice.

The CIDG also filed a separate case for kidnapping and serious illegal detention in connection with the disappearance of the missing online sabong master agent Ricardo Lasco, who was reportedly abducted on August 30, 2021, in San Pablo, Laguna.

Three former policemen linked to the kidnapping of Lasco have already surrendered.

The DOJ in January 2023 filed kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against six individuals allegedly involved in the disappearance of six sabungeros before the Manila Regional Trial Court.

The families, however, withdrew from the cases last month, prompting the kin of other victims to express disappointment.

”We have been hearing reports that there were attempts to really bribe ‘yung mga witnesses,” Acorda said.

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