DAVAO CITY – At least three suspected members of what authorities described as a Manila-based “big-time kidnap-for-ransom group” were killed in a “shootout” with authorities as they were trading the victim for ransom inside a bank here on Thursday, the police said.
The victim, Manila-based businesswoman Sally Chua, who is in her 50s, was also successfully rescued, Senior Supt. Ronald Dela Rosa, the city police director said.
Dela Rosa said the group was considered to be “big-time” and is made up mainly of locals with “possible connections to an international syndicate.”
The 10-minute “shootout” took place following repeated warnings from Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that criminals have to leave the city “horizontally (reads voluntarily) or vertically (in coffins)” as they have no place here.
Dela Rosa said the police first tried to “corner” the three white vehicles parked outside the Allied Bank on Claro M. Recto St. past noontime but three armed men started shooting at them.
The still unidentified driver and two other gunmen were killed in the process. He said a Philippine Army 2007 ring was found on his finger.
Dela Rosa said another suspect, who accompanied Chua inside the bank, was arrested but about 10 other cohorts, including two women, managed to escape aboard the two other vehicles.
“Listen very carefully because I only have one statement, I told criminals not to f*** around here,” a visibly angry Duterte said during media interviews after the shootout.
De la Rosa said Chua was kidnapped from Del Monte Village in Quezon City on July 5 and had convinced her abductors to arrange for the pay-off to be made here.
Chua, dela Rosa said, had recounted they travelled all the way from Manila on board the three vehicles so she could withdraw the agreed ransom amount of P15 million.
He said Chua had told him and Duterte that she was hoping the mayor and the police would not let the kidnappers escape, which was why she tried hard to convince them to come to Davao City.
But dela Rosa said before Chua told them these things, the National Capital Region police office had already alerted the Davao City police office about the possibility of the payoff taking place here.
“So we have known it beforehand that they were coming,” he said.
Dela Rosa said the police would do its best to capture the remaining suspects.
“If it can only be done, similar to United States that an entire city can be placed in a ”lock-down” then I think it should be done here,” Dela Rosa said. — Karlos Manlupig, Dennis Santos and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao