ACTOR Dennis Roldan, whose real name is Mitchell Gumabao, was meted life imprisonment on Tuesday for the kidnapping of a Filipino-Chinese boy in 2005.
Judge Rolando Mislang of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 167 also sentenced to life imprisonment Roldan’s accomplices Adrian Domingo and Rowena San Andres. All three were found guilty of kidnapping Kenshi Yu, who was then three years old.
Roldan, Domingo and San Andres were taken to the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila). The actor, who was once a Quezon City congressman, said he will appeal the court’s decision.
Octavio Garces, another co-accused of Roldan, was acquitted. He has been languishing in jail for nine years.
Roldan was a popular actor before he turned to politics. He ran for councilor in Quezon City and won in 1988. In 1992, he was elected congressman representing Quezon City’s 3rd district. He was arrested in his house in Filinvest II, Quezon City, on February 20, 2005 after agents of the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response Group or PACER, the anti-kidnapping arm of the Philippine National Police (PNP), rescued the victim from a safehouse in Cubao, Quezon City. Yu was snatched while he and his nanny were on their way to school in Pasig City (Metro Manila). The kidnappers demanded a P250-million ransom.
Eleven days after a series of negotiations between the kidnappers and the victim’s family, PACER agents rescued Yu.
Roldan and his accomplices were charged with kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms. After a year at a Pasig jail, the actor was ordered released by Judge Agnes Reyes-Carpio of the Pasig RTC Branch 261 in 2006 after posting a P500,000 bail. Although kidnap-for-ransom is a non-bailable crime, the judge hearing the case at the time claimed insufficiency of evidence against Roldan and allowed him to post bail.
Roldan and his alleged girlfriend, Suzette Wang, were tagged as the brains of the kidnapping. The case against Wang, who remains at large, was archived. Wang is reportedly a friend of the mother of the victim.
Roldan’s daughter Michelle, a former volleyball player at the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), said in her twitter account: “Your strength and love for god is what amazes me papa. I love you and I’m proud of you we will never stop fighting by your side. Trust God.”
Before entering show business and politics, Gumabao played for a short time with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The Movement for the Restoration Reace and Order (MRPO) lauded Roldan’s conviction.
“This victory is the victory of all kidnap-for-ransom victims,” MRPO chairman Ka Kuen Chua, said.
The MRPO has monitored the trial for nearly ten-years.
With ANTHONY VARGAS