|The recovered Toyota Vios taxi of carnapping and muder victim Constancio Julaton.
During the last part of June, news hit the airwaves regarding a new Modus Operandi that carnappers had involving taxi drivers. A group of men would flag down the taxi and then physically assault and even kill the driver to be able to steal the taxi.
Most of the victims attacked were driving a Toyota Avanza or a Toyota Vios.
Of the 5 cases reported, the most recent was just last June 19, where the Toyota Vios being driven by Constancio Julaton was taken. In the process, Julaton was murdered by the taxi-nappers. The 56 year old Julaton was found floating around a creek. His hands were tied behind his hand and his mouth was muzzled. He was riddled with stab wounds.
Thanks to the help of some informants, the PNP was able to track down and retrieve the taxi that Julaton was driving. Some of the suspects were caught in the act of rubbing out the taxi’s identification marks. They were even able to find the weapon used to stab Julaton and the packaging tape used to tie him up.
There have been 5 cases of taxi-napping in June alone, and the PNP believe that there is only one group responsible for this. While most of assaulted taxi drivers were killed, one driver is lucky enough to be able to share his experience.
|Edwin Benoso, 38, survived a carnapping.
38 year old Edwin Benoso has been behind the wheel of a taxi since 1993. He’s already been held up by a criminal once, but the he was lucky enough to come out of the ordeal without so much as a scratch. His most recent attack however was very different.
May 22, 2011. Mang Edwin was on his way to end his shift when a man flagged his taxi down and asked to be taken to Makati. Since Mang Edwin was really on his way to Makati and thought that he wouldn’t be getting any more passengers along the way anyway, he agreed to bring the man to Makati. To Mang Edwin’s surprise though, three more men got on the back seat.
Right after reaching Makati, the man in the passenger side seat pulled out an icepick and stuck it to Mang Edwin’s neck.
“Huwag kang gumalaw, holdap ‘to! (Don’t move, this is a holdup!)” claimed the passenger.
They threw Mang Edwin to the backseat and that’s where they tied him up and brutally beat him up, repeatedly stabbing him, kicking him, and pistol-whipping him. All this was happening while the taxi was headed for Bulacan. A while later, the taxi stopped because it had run out of gas. Immediately, the taxi-nappers called for backup, a man by the name of “Peter”.
They left Mang Edwin inside the taxi. He was conscious but almost unable to move, as if he was about to faint. He tried to crawl out of the taxi but was intercepted by the taxi-nappers. They dragged him out of the taxi and beat him up again, this time using a rock and then threw him inside their getaway van that had just arrived. Thinking he had already died, the taxi-nappers threw Mang Edwin and threw him into a river and left with his taxi.
|Benoso was so badly beaten that he needed surgery to repair his torn kidneys
Through all the beating and stabbing that Mang Edwin endured, he was able to keep his composure and once he was thrown in the river and left for dead, he started to gnaw on the rope used to tie him up. For almost half an hour in the river, Mang Edwin fought hard against the pain and the cold that he was feeling.
At 4 in the morning, a roving barangay mobile was able to save Mang Edwin from a river in Bulacan. Because of the severity of the beating that he took, Mang Edwin had to be operated on to repair his torn kidneys. Through all of this, Mang Edwin is still willing to testify against the people responsible for his suffering.
Because of the operation that led to the retrieval of Constancio Julaton’s taxi, members of the group responsible for these taxi-nappings have already been taken into custody. Mang Edwin was even able to positively identify some of these suspects as the ones that assaulted him. He identified them as Franknel Sabaldan, Jovani Folencio, and Jarvin Lorenzo. According to Mang Edwin, it was Sabaldan who stabbed him, Folencio who flagged the taxi down, and Lorenzo who drove the taxi once they started beating him up.
|Three of the suspects positively identified by Edwin Benoso.
Aside from the three, a Cris Nuezca, a Peter Miranda, and a Niño Ocampo were also part of the operation. Currently, all six members are being detained Camp Alejo Santos in Malolos, Bulacan.
|Three more suspects involved in the recent string of carnappings.
Sabaldan admitted to having committed these crimes and even explained their procedures. According to him, he’s not sure whether the taxis are sold whole or are dismantled and sold as surplus. The taxis and their parts are often brought to Barangay Capalangan, Apalit, Pampanga.
| Mastermind: Bienvenido Salonga
According to PNP Bulacan, the people behind these crimes are the Bienvenido Salonga Group. Bienvenido Salonga is the mastermind and organizer of the group, and is also the one who holds the arms that the group uses. Aside from Salonga, the CIDG is also after other members of the group, namely alyas Toto ans alyas Estong, both recruiters of the group. They also identified one Edgardo Maglalang as the group’s financer. Maglalang is the ready buyer of the group’s carnapped taxis and he gets each taxi for P25,000.
For every P25,000 that the group makes, only P3,000-6,000 goes to its members.
| R) Edgar Maglalang (Financer), Bienvenido Salonga (Organizer/Mastermind), alyas "Toto" (Recruiter), alyas "Estong" (Recruiter)
Tips to avoid danger
Being a cabbie isn’t the most lucrative profession in the world, but it is one of the most difficult. For a P1,350 boundary, the taxi driver only gets to keep P800, and that’s all he gets for 12 hours of driving and facing different threats and perils, just like the ones that Mang Edwin and Constancio Julaton faced.
Still, there are some who have been able to draw success from being a cabbie and have managed long enough to avoid becoming another statistic on the news.
Here are some tips on how to avoid getting carnapped. (This goes for the private car owners as well!)
- Always KEEP THE DOORS LOCKED and WINDOWS SHUT while travelling.
- Remember to park ONLY IN WELL LIT and SAFE PLACES
- DO NOT STAY INSIDE the car while it is PARKED or while WAITING.
- DO NOT STOP in UNSAFE PLACES
- Install ALARMS and attach LOCKS on the STEERING WHEEL.
- MEMORIZE POLICE STATION PHONE NUMBERS and other important numbers.
If and when you happen to pick up a carnapper and are in the harm’s way, here are a few tips on what to do:
- TURN ON HAZARD or SIGNAL LIGHTS
- TAKE A LOOK AT THE PERSON’S FACE IF POSSIBLE
- REPORT THE INCIDENT TO THE POLICE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
- KEEP CALM
- FOLLOW THEIR ORDERS
- LOOK FOR A WAY TO GET THE ATTENTION OF FELLOW TAXI DRIVERS OR DRIVERS
Whether you’re a taxi driver or a private vehicle owner, remember these tips, for they could one day, save your live.
“Taxi-nap” was aired on Saturday, July 2, 2011.
You can catch Failon Ngayon every Saturday, 4:45 pm on ABS-CBN and replays every Sunday, 1:30pm on ANC.