Kidnap/robbery gang leader nabbed in Agusan del SurBy Frinston Lim
TAGUM CITY, Philippines – The elusive leader of a criminal gang involved in kidnapping and robbery in Mindanao’s Caraga region fell into the hands of the authorities early Friday.
But Ondo Perez’s arrest around 2:30 a.m. in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, did not come easy, Senior Superintendent Glenn dela Torre, Agusan del Sur police chief, said by phone. Police Officers 1 Jezrel Paje, Raymundo Villar and James Pontillo were injured when Perez lobbed a grenade as a team of policemen closed in on him in Barangay (village) Dos.
Perez, a former militiaman, shot to notoriety in 2009 when he led his armed followers in taking over an elementary school in a village in Prosperidad town, also in Agusan del Sur. His group held hostage 75 teachers and pupils for several days before releasing them.
Perez was later arrested and jailed for another crime in Surigao del Sur but was able to escape in 2010.
Last month, his group pulled another caper by abducting two Chinese nationals and a Filipino in Barobo, Surigao del Sur. The victims, who were into mining, were subsequently rescued.
Dela Torre said Perez’s group was also behind a string of robberies along the Agusan-Butuan highway, which targeted passenger buses. In fact, shortly before he was arrested, Perez and his gang robbed a bakeshop in San Francisco, police said.
Dela Torre said aside from Perez, six gang members were also arrested in a follow up operation on Friday.
“I can say we have already neutralized this gang,” Dela Torre said.