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Acorda orders intensified hunt vs suspects in missing ‘sabungeros’

May 1, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 179 views

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. on Monday assured the families of the 34 missing “sabungeros” (cockfighting aficionados) that all efforts are being undertaken by the national police force to account for the suspects wanted in connection with the abduction of the sabungeros last year.

The top cop likewise assured the nation that their investigation into the “mysterious” disappearance of the victim would continue until the truth was entirely out.

“We will not stop until justice is served for the victims and their families. We have identified the suspects, and the court issued warrants of arrest against them. We urge the suspects to surrender peacefully and face the charges because the PNP will not stop until they are all accounted [for],” he said.

Acorda maintained that the police force remains steadfast in their search for the missing sabungeros as suspects in the case have been issued warrants of arrest.

He particularly mentioned the developments in the case of six of the victims, identified as James Baccay, Marlon Baccay, Rondel Cristorum, Mark Joseph Velasco, John Claude Venson Inonog, and Rowel Gomez, who were snatched inside the Manila Arena in Sta. Ana, Manila, on January 13, 2022.

Recently, a 15-page joint resolution released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) found probable cause to indict six suspects for six counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

At least six suspects are still being hunted as of press time.

However, the complaint against two indicted suspects was dismissed for “insufficiency of evidence.”

DOJ prosecutors considered the testimonies of witnesses and CCTV footage from different barangays that showed the continuity of the “forcible abduction.”

Also considered as part of the evidence were one of the victims’ cellphone conversations with his father during the time they were abducted, the testimony of a witness who identified the suspects, a CCTV footage showing a black and a gray van followed by a silver Toyota Wigo leaving the Manila Arena, the short lapse of time as shown in the CCTV footage, and the victims’ disappearance since the abduction.

All of these were cited as circumstances that may prove the suspects’ guilt. The case of Inonog, Baccay brothers, Cristorum, Velasco, and Gomez is one of the eight cases handled by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s (CIDG) Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) “Sabungero” now under Brigadier Gen. Romeo M. Caramat Jr.

The SITG “Sabungero” continues to encourage everyone with information regarding the case to come forward and help in the investigation.