MANILA (3RD UPDATE) - A local court has found former congressman and actor Dennis Roldan guilty of masterminding the kidnapping of a three-year-old Filipino-Chinese boy in 2005.
Judge Rolando Mislang of Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 167 ruled that Roldan -- Mitchell Gumabao in real life -- and two of his companions, Rowena San Andres and Adrian Domingo, are guilty beyond reasonable doubt in the kidnap-for-ransom case.
The judge sentenced the three to reclusion perpetua. No parole was recommended for the three.
The judge also ordered the three to pay 100,000 pesos in civil indemnity, 100,000 pesos for moral damages and 100,000 pesos for exemplary damages to the family of the kidnap victim.
The judge ordered Roldan and the two others to be brought to New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.
One of Roldan's co-accused, Octavio Garces, was acquitted in the case and ordered released. The judge also terminated the charges against two of Roldan's co-accused after they died.
Suzette Wang, Roldan's alleged girlfriend, is still at large.
Roldan said he will appeal the verdict. Speaking to reporters, he said he sees a higher purpose in the court ruling.
''Siguro mayron pang kailangan i-ayos si Lord sa akin, you know. I think everything has a purpose e. So hindi ko alam kung anong gusto niyang gawin ko muna dun sa Muntinlupa baka naman kasama yon sa kasaysayan ng buhay ko, kasama yan sa magiging testimony natin and dadaanan natin yan, yun ang gusto ni lord e. Iyan ang divine will ng Diyos,'' he said.
He said he also wonders why the judge who decided on the case was not the same judge who heard it.
"I have nothing against him but siyempre wala siyang demeanor nung kaso. Di niya nakita, di niya napanood, magre-rely lang siya sa transcript. Tapos na raffle ito in one month's time. Nag-hearing kami ng seven years. Tapos I just couldn't imagine na in one month's time parang nabasa niya lahat yung pinag-hearing-an namin and nakapag-come up siya ng decision," he said.
Roldan also asked why one of his co-accused, Octavio Garces, was acquitted.
"Okay naman kung ma-acquit si Garces, walang problema yun. Pero nakakapagtaka lang ang judicial system natin. Yung umamin na-acquit, and then yung walang ebidensiya na laban sa akin, ako naman yung guilty," he said.
Roldan, a former basketball player, entered show business before venturing into politics. He was elected congressman of Quezon City's 3rd District in 1992.
He later became a pastor of Jesus Christ the Life Giver Ministry based in Quezon City.
Roldan is the father of young actor Marco Gumabao and La Salle spiker Michelle Gumabao.
WHAT WENT BEFORE
In February 2005, a three-year old Chinese-Filipino boy, the son of a wealthy businessman, was kidnapped while on the way to school with his nanny at the AIC Gold Tower on Emerald Avenue in Pasig.
The kidnappers demanded P250 million in ransom for the boy but the family tried to negotiate, saying they could not raise this massive amount.
After 11 days, the boy was rescued unharmed by members of the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response Group (PACER) from a safehouse in Cubao.
Roldan was one of seven suspects arrested.
He was apprehended by PACER agents at his home in Filinvest II, Quezon City. He would later claim that the police tortured him.
Two of the suspects pointed to Roldan and his supposed girlfriend, Suzette Wang, as the alleged masterminds of the kidnapping.
Wang had been a friend of the boy's mother and was said to be the boy's baptismal godmother.
The group was charged with kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms that same year.
In July 2006, Roldan posted bail of P500,000.
In her decision, Judge Agnes Reyes-Carpio of the Pasig Regional Trial Court said there was no clear proof that the evidence against Roldan was strong.
The family of the victim, as well as anti-crime groups, slammed the decision and accused the judge of being biased in his favor.
In January 2007, suspect Albert Pagdanganan, who accused Roldan of masterminding the kidnapping, was killed in an anti-carjacking operation in Quezon City.
In August 2008, the kidnap victim himself, then 6 years old, positively identified Roldan as the "big boss" of his abductors. Two months later, the boy's father died in Benguet when his car fell into a 250-meter deep ravine and caught fire.
Wang's whereabouts are unclear. Roldan, on the other hand, became a full-time pastor soon after he posted bail.