The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the Las Pinas Regional Trial Court Branch 275’s ruling which meted out “reclusion perpetua” sentences to two men found guilty of kidnapping-with-ransom intent two female employees of a trading firm sometime in 2004.
In a 17-page decision, Associate Justice Franchito Diamante of the CA Fourth Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling as appellants Sandy Germinal and Reynaldo Badilla were positively identified by their victims.
“Both accused appellants were positively identified by the victims as the culprits. The trial court found their testimonies credible,” the CA ruling further read.
“We have meticulously reviewed the records and we are convinced beyond cavil that the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused appellants conspired to kidnap Josephine Chua and Ivy Baligan for the purpose of extracting money and that herein accused appellants, along with their co-accused, are perpetrators thereof,” the ruling stressed.
The CA further said the victims were able to recount their ordeal, replete with details, that they could not have simply concocted.
It also opted to upheld the Las Pinas RTC’s ruling in view of the passage of Republic Act No. 9346 in 2006, otherwise known as “An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.”
Associate Justices Josefina Guevara-Salonga and Mariflor P. Punzalan Castillo concurred with the decision.
Germinal and Badilla were part of a kidnap group who abducted Josephine T. Chua and Ivy B. Balibag, both employees of Ever Four Trading, on June 14, 2004.
Other members of the gang found guilty of kidnapping by the Las Pinas RTC include Maximo Alteein, Renato Igloria, Reynario Batis, Rudy Katang-Katang and Dioscoro Ranci.
Aside from this, the lower court also ordered them to indemnify their victims the amount of P500,000 and to pay the cost of the suit.
The offended parties were also awarded with exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.
Of the seven convicted persons, only Badilla and Germinal appealed the decision before the CA.
Records showed that Chua and Balibag were walking on their way to the warehouse of Ever Four Trading on Capricorn Street, Pamplona Park Subdivision, Las Pinas City when they were abducted by the suspects and forced aboard a Mitsubishi L-300 van.
The kidnappers them brought the two women to a safehouse owned and occupied by Katang-Katang in Barangay Bigaa, Cabuyao, Laguna where they were held captive for 20 hours.
Using a cellular phone, the kidnappers demanded P3 million for their release.
Operatives of the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response (PACER) and National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (NAKTAF) conducted a rescue operation on June 15 that led to the rescue of Chua and Balibag and the arrest of the kidnappers.