A CAR dealer and his pal accused of kidnapping one of their customers who happened to be a namesake of former President Joseph Estrada in Quezon City in June 2019 were found guilty by the court which sentenced them to life in prison last Wednesday, Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group director, Brigadier General Jonnel C. Estomo announced yesterday.
Christian Rueda alias ‘Chiwi’ and Jiovani David Ojeda alias ‘Vani’ were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt for kidnapping-for-ransom and carnapping and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua by Judge Rafael Hipolito of the Q.C. Regional Trial Court Branch 215, said the PNP-AKG director.
However, the court acquitted the duo for illegal possession of explosives.
According to Estomo, the two were successfully prosecuted by Department of Justice Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Olivia Torrevillas.
Court records revealed that on June 30, 2018, Estrada bought a black Mitsubishi Montero with conduction sticker BO P061 from Rueda.
It turned out that after the victim realized that something was wrong with the SUV when he drove it, he informed Rueda about it. On July 28 of the same year, Rueda sent a text message and then called Estrada that he will get his key.
Rueda and a man who introduced himself as a mechanic but was later identified to be Ojeda then went to the victim’s residence on board a white Toyota Vios. Rueda and the victim boarded the SUV while being tailed by Ojeda.
However, while inside the Montero, the victim was suddenly punched and strangled by Rueda who later forcibly put him at the back of the SUV where he was asked to produce money for his freedom.
The suspects then brought the victim to Litex, Q.C. where they stopped in an unknown place and blindfolded Estrada while pointing a gun on his head.
At gunpoint, the kidnappers forced the victim to call his family and asked them to produce P300,000 for his safe release.
The suspects then brought the victim to Tagaytay City where they waited for Estrada’s sister to send the money to a Western Union branch. However, since it was a Sunday, the transaction did not push thru as the remittance center was closed that time.
Frustrated, the kidnappers instructed the victim to withdraw money from the BDO branch in Jose P. Rizal Avenue corner Puerto Rico Avenue in Nangka, Marikina City around 10:30 a.m. of July 30.
It was while inside the bank that the victim got the chance to escape from the kidnappers and shouted for help. The scene he created prompted the suspects to escape on board the Montero.
Estomo said that during questioning by the PNP-AKG, the victim identified his kidnappers. However, the suspects continued to threaten the victim and even had the gall to demand P500,000 from him or they will kill him and his family.
The ensuing entrapment operation led in the arrest of the suspects as they tried to get the ransom money from the victim in a gasoline station in C5 Road.