MANILA -- A policewoman and five suspected kidnappers were killed while four others were injured in a rescue operation aimed at recovering a high-value target, who is in the government's list of drug personalities in Laguna.
The firefight happened along Maharlika Highway, Barangay San Nicolas, San Pablo City on Tuesday and resulted in the killing of PO1 Sarah Jane Andal and five suspects - who wore police uniforms bearing the names SPO2 Adalla, SPO3 Fernandez, PO3 Dizon, PO2 Rebadulla, and another still unidentified person.
Andal is a member of the rescuing team composed of elements of the Candelaria, Quezon and San Pablo City police offices and the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG).
Recovered from the suspects were one Thompson Rifle, two caliber .45 guns, two hand grenades, and assorted ammunition.
The kidnap victim, identified as Ronaldo de Guzman Arguelles, sustained bullet wound in his abdomen during the shootout and now in serious condition at the San Pablo Medical Center.
Also wounded but are now in stable condition at the hospital are two other Candelaria cops identified as PO1 January De Ramos Menfroza and PO1 Jun-Jun Jabola Villaflor , and a civilian by-stander.
The San Pablo City police are also investigating the change in the get-away vehicle Isuzu Sportivo used by the kidnappers when the kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) group with their victim was intercepted at the city’s village outskirt.
The vehicle’s real owner was identified as Lydia Sahagun Averion of Sta. Rosa City, Laguna through the certificate of registration/official receipt recovered inside the getaway vehicle.
Supt. Eduard Padilla Mallo, Candelaria police chief, reported that the robbery with abduction transpired around 6:15 p.m. on Monday at Cristina Village in Barangay Mangilag Sur, Candelaria, Quezon.
The abduction started at the Arguelles residence in Cristina Village in the presence of Arguelles’ relatives who happened to be at his house when five unidentified armed suspects, who claimed to be elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), barged into the residence and ordered all house occupants to drop on the floor.
The perpetrators then took valuable things but also abducted Arguelles as they fled the area using the victim’s vehicle Honda Civic with plate no. WBN 505.
The Candelaria police conducted their follow up operation for possible identification and arrest of the suspects and immediately sent flash alarm to adjacent municipalities for dragnet operation and the conduct of checkpoint “Oplan Sita” to apprehend the kidnappers.
Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Rhoderick Armamento, Quezon Police director, also confirmed that the victim is on the government's drug personality watch list and is suspected to be using his sand delivery business as a cover for his drug operations. The suspect also faced drug charges at least three times from 2005 to 2007, but two of those were dropped.
Police investigation also disclosed that the robbery incident later turned out to be a KFR case as the suspects forcibly took the robbery victim and asked for a pay-off when the police operatives tracked them down.
"The kidnappers accepted the counter offer of the family of Mr. Arguelles in the amount of PHP800,000," PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa said in a press conference Tuesday.
Dela Rosa said the suspects were clearly not PNP personnel, used non-government issued firearms, including the World War II vintage Thompson submachine gun, and wore slippers instead of regulation footwear.
The PNP chief warned that misrepresenting oneself as a law enforcer by wearing a uniform without the proper authorization is punishable as usurpation of public functions under the law. (PNA)