Most wanted criminal denies role in Wakaoji kidnapping

By Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN News Europe Bureau chief

Posted at Nov 02 2010 10:13 PM | Updated as of Nov 03 2010 09:08 AM

Rolly Fajardo says he was just 16 when Japanese exec was kidnapped in 1986  

MANILA, Philippines –  The Philippines' most wanted criminal (excluding insurgents), allegedly involved in 9 kidnap-for-ransom cases, hid for more than 8 years in Rome, Italy.

Rolly Fajardo worked as a domestic helper, hopping from one Italian employer to another to elude arrest.

A serious illness, however, prompted him to go back to Manila.

With modern technology like the Internet and Skype, he was able to withstand homesickness despite being away from his family for more than 8 years.

He went home finally on Monday, but National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents arrested him upon touchdown.

Fajardo is facing multiple charges of kidnapping including the highly celebrated Wakaoji kidnapping in 1986.

Before he left for Manila, he was in close contact with the ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau. His last interview before his arrest was with ABS-CBN stringer Jocelyn Ruiz.

Because of his illegal work status and being a wanted criminal in the Philippines, Fajardo told ABS-CBN he had to change employers most of the time to elude arrest.

He had a P1-million reward on his head.

Fajardo, however, strongly denied all the charges levelled against him.

"Ang kinatakot ko, ayokong magaya sa aking magulang na nakulong ng walang kasalanan. Iyung pagkakataon na ganito na isa rin ako sa inakusahan,” he said.

He branded as impossible his alleged involvement in the Wakaoji abduction because he said he was just 16 at the time of kidnap incident in 1986.

Fajardo chose Italy as the ideal place to escape.

“Dumating nga iyung panahon na nagkasakit pa ako dito, dinapuan ako ng mga sakit. Siyempre, alam mo naman dito, pag ikaw ay naghahanap-buhay, nagtatrabaho, halos hindi ka na nga nakakapahinga,” he said.

Fajardo said he had no immediate plans to go home if not for his deteriorating health. He has just had a colostomy surgical operation, which removed a portion of his large intestine.

While in detention, Fajardo appealed for medical attention and other tests before any litigation of his cases.

He is hoping that he will get fair trial under the Aquino administration.

For humanitarian reasons, the NBI allowed his medical operation for the removal of his acute gall bladder in an undisclosed Manila hospital. As of posting, Fajardo was already confined in the hospital.

De Lima praises NBI

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meanwhile, commended the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), for Fajardo’s arrest.

De Lima said the hunt for Fajardo's brother, Harold, who also has a P1-million reward for his capture, continues.

She added that the older Fajardo has 9 arrest warrants for kidnapping for ransom and 1 for car theft.

"He left the Philippines sometime in 2002 with the use of an assumed name in his passport," she said.

De Lima revealed that the NBI got a tip that Rolly Fajardo was arriving Monday afternon.

“[NBI] Director [Magtanggol] Gatdula advised me, texted me, that he was on his way to NAIA to arrest Rolando Fajardo, who was on his way here," she said.

"The father, Roberto Fajardo, used to be with the PC [Philippine Constabulary], was involved in the 1986 kidnapping of a Japanese businessman and released in 2009 after serving his sentence," according to de Lima.  "Another brother is in the most wanted list. We are looking for him. Allegedly, he is also in hiding in Rome." – with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News