Manila, Philippines – After more than a decade, two former soldiers, a policeman and three others were sentenced on Friday to up to 40 years in prison for abducting a Filipino-Pakistani businessman in Makati City in 2007.
In a 28-page decision, Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda found the six guilty of the crime of kidnap for ransom when they abducted businessman Tariq Mian outside his store at the corner of Dela Rosa and Santuico Streets in May 24, 2007.
Mian was released 10 days later after his family paid a P2-million ransom.
Alameda imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua on Senior Insp. Eleazar Seiton, Sgt. Luminog Guiapal, Cpl. Jumel Cañazares, Jonathan Melgo, Ahmad Guiamad and Beltran Tompeta Taba after evidence showed that “conspiracy existed in the commission of the crime of kidnapping for ransom.”
He noted that their alibis that they were in different places when the crime occurred was “weak and crumbles in the light of their positive identification by the complainant.”
“Clearly, [Mian] identified them as the persons who forcibly kidnapped and shoved him into the Toyota Innova and transferred him into another SUV vehicle until they reached the safe house in Calamba, Laguna. [Mian] also identified them as his guards in the safe house during the period of his captivity in Calamba, Laguna, and as negotiators in their demand for ransom. Finally, the complainant identified the accused after their arrest as his kidnappers,” Alameda said in his decision.
He, however, acquitted them for the crime of theft, citing insufficient evidence.
When the abduction occurred in May 2007, Seiton used a fake warrant of arrest against Mian for allegedly engaging in large-scale illegal recruitment.
It was later found out that this was a tampered copy of a warrant for estafa issued against another person by Pasay RTC Branch 111 Judge Wilhelmina Jorge-Wagan.
Initially, the suspects asked Mian’s family a ransom of P50 million, but later agreed to release the victim in exchange for P2 million.
When Mian was released in the afternoon of June 3, 2007, members of the now-defunct Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response arrested Seiton, Melgo and Guiamad after a brief chase.
Authorities arrested the other suspects in follow-up operations, but five others remain at large to this day, including two soldiers, namely 2Lt. Preacher Jabob and Sgt. Salki Mondo Asim.
While Mian said he was happy that “at least after 10 years, justice prevailed,” he also felt sad for the families and children of the suspects, whom he said would “suffer” because of the ruling.
Alameda is the fourth judge to handle Mian’s case since it was first raffled off to RTC Branch 145 Judge Cesar Santamaria in 2007.
When Santamaria retired, RTC Branch 149 Judge Cesar Untalan took over the case as acting presiding judge of RTC Branch 145.
Judge Carlito Calpatura handled the case when he was appointed to preside RTC Branch 145, but inhibited himself. The case was then reraffled and went to Alameda.