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Retired Navy, 5 others nabbed for kidnapping

Francis Wakefield

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Lineup The Police Anti-Kidnaping Group presents six kidnap-for-ransom suspects during a briefing at its headquarters yesterday. They were arrested for kidnaping the businessman-friend of the group’s mastermind. Analy Labor

The Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) yesterday announced the arrest of six suspects, including a retired Philippine Navy officer, involved in the kidnapping of a Grab driver who was rescued in Pasay City over the weekend.

Lt. Col. Elmer Cereno, PNP-AKG spokesman, identified the suspects as retired Navy officer Francis Reyes, 41, married, the alleged mastermind of the group, of Barangay Pulang Lupa, Las Piñas City; seafarer Melvin Culala, 39, married, the alleged financier of their kidnapping group, a resident of Cupang, Antipolo City; and members Nathaniel Aragon, Christopher Bagro, Rico Castillo and Reynaldo Parolina, who acted as spotters, guards and negotiators.

The rescued victim, meanwhile, was identified as Eugenio Santos, 39, of Barangay Gulod, Quezon City.

Santos’ wife Ma. Esther sought the assistance of the PNP-AKG on 6 September after her husband was allegedly kidnapped by Reyes’ group.

She said the victim borrowed money from Culala amounting to P2 million for his buy-and-sell business on 4 September. On the evening of 5 September, the victim received a call from Reyes who requested to talk to him near their house.

However, upon meeting him, the victim was dragged by the suspect and his cohorts into a Blue Toyota Innova and taken to the Caltex gasoline station at City of Dreams, Parañaque City. His friend Alvin Bangug then boarded the car with two other men.

Cereno said the victim was then instructed to call his family to produce P1.8 million or a land title as collateral until 5 p.m. of 6 September to gain his freedom.

PNP-AKG operatives launched a rescue operation with the assistance of the Pasay City Police on 6 September.

Cereno said police operatives chanced upon a group of male persons beside a blue Toyota Innova in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs building in Pasay City, and one of them fitted the description of the victim given by his family.

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