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MRPO chair thanks police rescuers

September 28, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 238 views

14 years after he was abducted

EXACTLY 14 years after a group of officers from the now defunct “Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response” or PACER rescued him alive from the hideout of a “notorious” kidnapping-for-ransom (KFR) gang, the chair of the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) on Tuesday thanked his rescuers led by now Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Director Brigadier General Ronald O. Lee.

“It’s my ‘Freedom Day’. September 27, 2008, wherein I was rescued by you and PACER team. Ang bilis ng panahon, it has been 14 years na, and I will always be thankful, grateful, blessed,” Ka Kuen Chua told Lee and his fellows from the PACER, which is the forerunner of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG).

An architect by profession, Chua said he will be “forever” indebted to his policemen-rescuers who risked their lives in saving him from the hands of the kidnappers who tortured and chained him like a dog as they negotiated a huge ransom for his safe release.

Since then, Architect Ka Kuen Chua, joined by Teresita Ang-See has been at the forefront of the MRPO’s effort to convince Filipino-Chinese KFR victims to be really not afraid to show their faces and bravely confront their tormentors in courts.

The duo’s crusade has resulted in a string of convictions of kidnappers in Metro Manila over the past ten years as the MRPO fully convinced and supported victims-witnesses and fully partnered with the PNP and Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors in sending KFR gang members to jail for life.

Architect Chua has also become a major “anti-kidnapping advocate” in the country and a member of the PNP-AKG Advisory Group, which is helping the unit headed by Col. Rodolfo D. Castil Jr. come up with more solid programs to curb further cases of POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator) and casino-related KFR and serious illegal detention cases in Metro Manila and its nearby regions.

On April 19, 2012, Judge Henry Jean Paul Inting of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 95 found two of Chua’s kidnappers “guilty” beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

Chua was rescued unharmed by PACER operatives then under Col. Leonardo A. Espina—yes, the official who would later become a Lieutenant General and rise to become a PNP Officer-in-Charge (OIC) during the Benigno Aquino III administration—after 17-days of captivity.

His rescue came as then President Macapagal-Arroyo installed the 15th chief of the PNP, Gen. Jesus A. Verzosa.

It was Espina who supervised the operation to free Chua from the hands of his abductors, who were monitored to be holding a safe house in Belen Street in Barangay Gulod, Novaliches, Quezon City.

After days of surveillance, Espina gave the go-signal to assault the kidnappers’ safehouse after the gunmen threatened to kill the victim. The rescuers led by Lee, then a field grade officer, shot dead an unidentified member of the KFR gang and captured one kidnap suspect.

At least four armed kidnappers wearing t-shirts with “Police” markings’ seized Chua on September 10, 2008, and dragged him into a waiting vehicle before bringing him to their hideout.

Seventeen days later, the PACER came to rescue him with clockwork precision and found the hostage blindfolded and chained like a dog by the kidnappers. A brief gunbattle erupted between the PACER team and the suspects resulting in the death of one of the kidnappers and the capture of one suspect.

Days later, PACER agents arrested another suspect in a follow-up operation in Novaliches.

The kidnappers were found to have demanded a whopping P70 million ransom for the liberty of Chua before settling for P1.5 million.

The two alive suspects were identified as among the armed men who forced Chua out of his car, which was then parked in front of his house, before showing the victim into their getaway vehicle.

In his court testimony, Chua recalled that shortly after he was taken captive, the kidnappers called his sister to demand a P70-million ransom but later agreed to have the amount reduced to P1.5 million

In the course of the negotiation, Chua said that his abductors had already asked for small amounts to be deposited in Chua’s ATM (automated teller machine) account.

Before he was rescued, some P300,000 had already been sent to the kidnappers through the ATM, while the P1.2-million balance was hand-delivered, the court said, citing testimonies from the victim himself and the police.

“The testimony of the businessman-victim is credible and trustworthy. He testified in a calm, candid and straightforward manner,” Judge Inting said in his decision.

The accused, on the other hand, “failed to present concrete evidence proving that they were in some other place other than the crime scene,” he added.

Judge Inting also ordered the two convicts to pay the victim and his family a total of P350,000 in damages.

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