6 held for kidnapping of businessman

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CAMP GENERAL ALEJO SANTOS, Bulacan—Six men were charged last week with the kidnapping of a Bulacan gas station owner, who was released after paying a P12-million ransom.

Businessman Emerson Magadia, 39, was seized at noon on February14 as he drove on Maharlika Highway from his gas station in San Ildefonso town.

The suspects, who were on a Nissan Patrol, cut through Magadia vehicle’s path, forcing him to stop. They then grabbed Magadia and detained him in a safehouse.

Magadia’s family did not inform the police about the kidnapping until after his release, police said.

On March 3, police arrested Manuel Atencio, 46, of Pulilan town; and Estelito Manalo, 46; Ricardo Hovilla Jr., 23; and Azenith Briones, 32, all of Baliwag town, for the kidnapping.

Supt. Joel Orduna, Bulacan police director, filed criminal complaints against them in the Bulacan prosecutor’s office in Malolos City on March 4.

Police included Dennis Desiderio, 47, of Plaridel town, and a Pampanga resident in the complaint. Desiderio was arrested on March 9 in Baliwag. The other suspect, who is based in Candaba, Pampanga, has yet to be arrested. He has been identified as the one who allegedly financed the kidnapping operation.

Desiderio told police that they also worked with a suspect based in San Ildefonso and two other men.

During the March 4 arrests, police recovered a .45-cal. pistol from Atencio, Manalo, Hovilla and Briones.

Manalo claimed he was not part of the kidnap group but he was detained on a drug possession charge. Police said Briones served as the caretaker of Magadia while they negotiated his ransom. Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon

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