4 Letran students to face trial for kidnapping
Four Colegio de San Juan de Letran students are set to face trial on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in a supposed hazing rite gone wrong.
Jhulius Atabay, 19; Ferdinand dela Vega Jr., 20; Justine Mahipus, 18, and Ralph Emmanuel Camaya, 20, were indicted after Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza Malagar found probable cause to hold them for trial on Aug. 17.
The judge set the hearings on the bail petition filed by the suspects on Oct. 31.
The suspects are detained at the Manila City Jail with no bail recommended.
They pled not guilty during their arraignment on Aug. 24 on the allegation that they kidnapped Denzhel Alexandre Gomez, 19, while their schoolmate was waiting for a bus near the Light Rail Transit Line 1’s Central station in Manila on Aug. 1.
Gomez was waiting for a bus home with Atabay when he was allegedly forced inside a vehicle at gunpoint and blindfolded before being taken to Dela Vega’s house, where he was tied up and detained until his rescue by the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group on Aug. 3.
The suspects allegedly demanded P30 million from Gomez’s family.
The suspects are from well-off families, with some of them residing in Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa.
The suspects were indicted and charged by the Department of Justice prosecutors before the Manila RTC after Mahipus confessed that he drove the vehicle that was used in kidnapping Gomez.
In his affidavit, Mahipus said the group had already attempted snatching the victim in Intramuros in July and that the kidnapping was an initiation rite for a fraternity.
The suspect also tagged Atabay as the one who pretended to be a kidnap victim and contacted the family about the P30 million ransom money that was later reduced to P20 million.
The charges against the other suspects – Eriek Candaba, Gabriel Rabi, Billy Rocillo, Arvi Velasquez, Miguel Austria, and Kim Pascua – remain pending before the prosecutor’s office for preliminary investigation.