'Fortunate' recovery of papers, auto part gives cops leads in Makati abduction

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2019 09:59 AM | Updated as of Dec 11 2019 10:11 AM

MANILA - Two sets of evidence found at the commercial road in Makati City where a female Chinese offshore gambling employee was abducted by van-riding men on Monday have pointed investigators to their next leads in search for the victim. 

Makati police chief Col. Rogelio Simon described as "fortunate" the recovery of an envelope containing legal and identification papers, as well as a detached piece of the still-missing van. 

"Parang part siya ng unfortunate event na kinonsider namin naging fortunate na may nahulog. Doon nagsimula ang pag-investigate," he told reporters Tuesday. 

The papers included an unsigned deed of sale of a vehicle between two Chinese men and scanned copies of their passports and IDs.

The 2 men, Chen Tangbin and Zhu Jianwei, are now considered persons of interest or prospective sources of information and leads. 

Tangbin was identified by his sister to the police on Tuesday as the husband of the abducted woman, 28-year-old Zhou Mei, a Philippine offshore gaming operations employee. 

Simon said the sister voluntarily came forward to the police and confirmed Zhou's identity. 

Investigators have already talked to Tangbin but noted inconsistencies in his statements, Simon said. 

"The same question na binabato namin, may details siya na pabago-bago: 'Yung kanyang location nung nasaan siya during this time, ano ang ginawa before nangyari." 

"And during 'yung certain time kung tinanong namin nasaan siya, mayroon siyang binanggit na oras at lugar at na-verify namin na wala siya doon."

Police are still looking for the other person of interest. 

Simon said they cannot yet determine if the papers were deliberately left at the crime scene. 

"Sa akin, it doesn't matter kung sinadya or hindi, kasi definitely nakatulong siya sa investigation."

"Kung wala kasi 'yung documents na 'yun, wala tayong makukuhang pangalan, wala tayong makukuhang address, wala tayong maco-consider na persons of interest."

The discovery of the documents and the police's presentation of photocopies to the media has been panned by netizens, with some comparing it to a "teleserye" script.

The actual documents were no longer submitted for forensic screening, since they had already been passed around multiple times since being found on the street, Simon said. 

These people included bystanders who passed the papers to the security guards of the nearby building, who in turn turned it over to police responders. 

Investigators are also tracing the location of the van with the help of anonymous tips and a recovered piece of the vehicle Simon identified as a side flare. 

"Doon sa video kasi, halos hindi mo makita pero pag dinahan dahan mo, talagang may makikita kang nahulog during the commotion doon sa loob," Simon said. 

A witness interviewed by ABS-CBN News on the night of the abduction recalled seeing part of the van's sliding door break off and fall from the van. 

The broken-off part also contains a bar code police hope to use to locate the van, with help from the manufacturer. 

Simon said the flare may have torn off from the van when it sped away with the vehicle being an old model. 

Police review of the van's route through security footage, meanwhile, showed the vehicle circle around nearby roads a couple of times. 

While police have not yet ruled out any motives, Simon said the activity of the van after the abduction may discount the incident being a kidnap-for-ransom case.