Bulacan town vice mayor tagged as leader of kidnap group

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 13 2018 06:40 PM

MANILA - Armed with a search warrant, operatives of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) on Tuesday went to the residence of a Bulacan town official tagged in a kidnap-for ransom group. 

Policemen proceeded to search Angat Vice Mayor Gilberto Santos' house Tuesday morning, where two caliber .45 pistols and a hand grenade were found.

They also searched the family's warehouse, where a second-hand grenade was recovered.

"Kasama sa search warrant, we will file a case versus [the] vice mayor ng illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, pati 'yung sa grenade," said Supt. Elmer Cereno, chief of the PNP-AKG Public Information Office.

The vice mayor was not around when the search warrant was served. Only his wife Helen and relatives were there.

Santos' sister, lawyer Ma. Theresa Villafuerte, slammed the operatives, saying the guns and hand grenade were planted.

"Sabi nila sundin ang batas, pero sila mismong law enforcers ang nagva-violate ng law dahil 10-15 tao naka-bonnet ang pinauna nila at nagtanim na ng baril at granada," Villafuerte said.

"If they are really observing the legal process, dapat nagtanong sila sa mga tao sa baba. May na-violate na sila na process pero they continue to proceed with the search," she added.

Santos' wife told ABS-CBN News that the vice mayor was advised by close friends to hide for his safety.

She said they had received information that a search warrant was to be served soon. 

Police said Santos is the leader and financier of a kidnap-for-ransom group that took a businesswoman at her residence in Biñan City in December.

The victim's family immediately sought the assistance of the AKG concerning the incident.

Following negotiations between the family communicator and kidnappers, an entrapment operation was set in Angat, Bulacan, where AKG operatives encountered the group. 

This resulted in the killing of four suspects and PNP-AKG Luzon Field Unit chief Supt. Arthur Masungsong.

In February, the anti-kidnapping unit arrested Donato Jacob, a self-confessed active member of the New People's Army and also part of the kidnap group.

Jacob named Vice Mayor Gilberto Santos as the leader, financier and firearms provider of the KFR group.

Santos' family vehemently denied the allegations and said these are all politically-motivated.

"Very strong ang objection ko d'yan. My brother has been a public servant since 1994. I would like to believe na sa confession ni Donato Jacob, may political color dito," Villafuerte said.

Cereno responded: "That's their version, but during the gathering of evidence of our men on the ground, may katotohanan ang sinabi ni Jacob. For political motivation? Malayo. We are on the criminal aspect."

The AKG is still on the hunt for two more members of the KFR group.

The vice mayor's family, meanwhile, said they will file administrative complaints against the operating officers.