The kidnappers of the 20-year-old student of the Ateneo de Manila University apparently duped each other, leaving the culprits unprepared and “crippled,” and so they decided to abort their “operation.”
One may observe that this may be a divine intervention as the parents, relatives and friends of Bea Mata, a senior college student of the university kidnapped at the car park inside the campus on November 21, prayed earnestly upon realizing that their daughter was indeed forcibly taken by four to five men.
The victim’s mother, Betsy, disclosed that the kidnappers had actually demanded money from them, but she stressed that their earnest prayers had worked wonders. She dispelled the police’s speculation that it was a “kidnap me” incident, and that an ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG).
Bea recounted that she left their home on that day at around 5 p.m. to submit her papers required in one of her subjects in school. There was heavy traffic and so she arrived inside the campus at around 6:30 p.m. Shortly after submitting her papers, she went back to the parking lot and boarded her black Hyundai Accent car.
When she was about to shut the car’s door, a man’s arm suddenly sprang from the outside and grabbed her by her neck. Bea jolted, tried to put up a fight and bite the arm. However, other men managed to board her car and hastily covered her head and face with a bonnet and her own canvass tote bag. Thus, she said, she could not describe any of them except for the white shirt worn by the man who grabbed her by the neck.
Bea felt overpowered, helpless and terrified as the culprits threatened to harm her if she did not cooperate. She said she was shaking in fear and that all she could do was oblige them. She was ordered to go to the back seat and one of the men took the driver’s seat. However, Bea learned that the “driver” was just learning how to drive.
“The driver was always clicking and pulling the handbrake and running through potholes and humps like crazy. This was noticed by the other cohorts, too, so they asked him to take it easy,” Bea recalled. (Later in the incident, Bea said the driver was even grateful he had the chance to learn how to drive.)
Betsy said that at around 7:30 p.m., she got a call from Bea’s phone but there was no one talking. She got a call again at around 8 p.m., and this time, Bea was asking money from her and for her and her father to proceed to Ateneo.
“It was out of character,” Betsy said of her daughter at that moment, but she and her husband, Brian, agreed to go to Ateneo anyway.
While the couple was heading towards the university onboard their car, Betsy kept trying to contact Bea’s phone but the latter did not answer.
At around 8:30 p.m., Betsy got a text message from someone who identified himself as Dale, who claimed to be a professor, saying that Bea would like to know their (Betsy and Brian’s) whereabouts. After replying to the message, Betsy called Dale’s number.
The latter told her that Bea was borrowing money from him but he did not have the amount she needed.
“This was unusual. It was so not her,” Betsy said of her daughter.
When the couple arrived in Ateneo, they searched for their daughter and tried to call her number, but to no avail. They sought the help of the university’s security personnel and Bea’s org mates, batchmates and classmates who, Betsy said, were very helpful.
Dale sent another text message asking about the money. Brian asked how much money was needed by his daughter; Dale said P50,000.
“We thought ‘HUH?!’ This is so not her [Bea]!’” Betsy exclaimed.
At around 9:30 p.m., Dale told Betsy through text message that he wanted to talk to her and that she call him. Betsy was dumbfounded when Dale told her: “I think there’s something wrong. I think she is taken by bad men?”
Brian took the phone from Betsy and after talking to Dale, Brian was certain that the man was among the group who had taken Bea. Brian became furious and cussed at Dale.
Betsy decided to talk to Bea’s schoolmates and they started calling friends, posting notes on social networking sites and researched on the background of Dale. Then they found out that he was not a professor and, consequently, confirmed suspicions that he was also behind Bea’s disappearance.
Later, Brian and one of the students who were helping the couple received identical text messages that read “250,000 Jollibee Cubao now alone.”
“I got scared and I wondered why my daughter’s friend got the same message,” Betsy said.
Brian negotiated with the kidnappers and so the ransom was reduced from P250,000 to P30,000. Also, a friend of his who was a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines helped in tracing Bea’s location through her phone’s signal. Bea was traced to Concepcion, Marikina City.
Meanwhile, Bea said that she was ordered to remain crouching on the floor of her car’s back seat while they were driving around non-stop for about seven or eight hours. She sensed that she was with four or five men who were between 30 and 40 years old, who spoke in Tagalog, and who were apparently taking shabu right inside her car.
She said that there were other cohorts who earlier took her P2,000 cash, Iphone, pocket wifi, watch and earrings. However, it appeared that they were not in the car at that time.
“The guys in the car only had P200 and they were deciding whether to buy pan de sal [local bread]for me or buy gas for the car. They asked how far two bars [on the fuel gauge]would go, and I told them that I did not know,” Bea said.
The kidnappers finally decided to spend the money on gas. While at the gas station, Bea heard the men discussing about the delayed instructions from their other cohorts who took Bea’s valuables. The men in the car were getting impatient, especially they were then already running out of gas and money. They aired their frustration to Bea, saying that the “operation” was “sablay” (ill-prepared) and so decided to abort it.
Before leaving Bea in her car at the gas station, the kidnappers gave her a stern instruction to wait for 20 minutes before taking off the cover on her head. Bea said she literally counted 20 minutes and a little more with her fingers before taking off the cover.
She then asked around the area about the exact location she was and she learned that she was at a Caltex gasoline station in Manggahan, Pasig City. She was about to start the car’s engine but it conked out because it was already overheated. She then made a call to her father to fetch her and the latter, accompanied by police officers, arrived at the gas station at around 2:30 a.m.
“The kidnapping incident left Bea a harrowing and unforgettable experience that will haunt her for the rest of her life. They [kidnappers]worried the hell out of her parents, all relatives and friends,” Betsy said with anger on her voice.
The mother lamented that the police refuted what the university had already confirmed as a kidnapping case. She was also irked when the police came up with another angle that there was a misunderstanding to which the couple apologized and agreed to a settlement.
“Are you kidding me?! My daughter is so upset and she feels she was kidnapped twice over. The police should be on the victim’s side,” Betsy pointed out.
Betsy added that her daughter does not watch drama series on television and does not know what “kidnap me” means and she is, therefore, incapable of crafting a drama such as this.
“We are a simple family, simple people now becoming rather victims of injustice.”