A MOST wanted kidnapping-for-ransom and robbery-holdup gang leader was killed in a gunbattle with agents of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) who were about to arrest him in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental around 4 a.m. yesterday, PNP-AKG director, Brigadier General Jonnel C. Estomo said.
In a report to PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, the official identified the slain suspect as Ricar Loberas, a resident of Barangay Tampalon in Kabankalan City, also in Negros Occidental who was tagged as the head of an armed group involved in a series of burglaries and robbery-holdup as well as kidnappings in different areas of the province.
According to Estomo, members of the AKG Special Operations Unit under Lieutenant Colonel Wilfredo Sy, joined by the AK Visayas Field Unit and the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office went to the suspect’s known residence to serve a warrant of arrest issued against him by Judge Rodney Magbanua of the Kabankalan City Regional Trial Court Branch 61.
However, the suspect opened fire at the AKG operatives after he noticed their presence outside his house triggering a brief shootout which resulted in the latter’s death. Recovered from the slain suspect’s possession were one caliber 9mm semi-automatic pistol with five live ammunition, one cal. .38 revolver with three bullets and three spent cartridges, an improvised tooter and two small heat-sealed plastic sachets containing suspected shabu.
Estomo said that a record check showed that Loberas assembled an armed robbery-holdup and kidnapping group shortly after he was released from the New Bilibid Prisons.
He said that the suspect was identified as the man who masterminded the kidnapping-for-ransom of a local female resident who was even held at the suspect’s residence while they negotiated ransom with her family.
Estomo said that the woman’s family paid a still undetermined amount of money to the kidnappers who eventually released their captive unharmed. After getting back the kidnapped woman, her family decided not to file any criminal charges against the suspects for fear of reprisal.
With Zaida Delos Reyes