Tiu kidnappers get life terms

- Sandy Araneta -

MANILA, Philippines - Six Chinese nationals were each sentenced yesterday to a maximum of 40 years in prison for the 2001 kidnapping of Jacky Rowena Tiu.

Judge Antonio Rosales of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 52 convicted them without the benefit of parole.

Shi Jian Hui alias Jacky Sy King; Lim Jian Feng alias Jason Lim; Xu You Kwang alias Johnny Co; Wu Chang; Shi Chun Qi alias Ocampo Jacky Sy, and Zhang Xi Wang alias Michael Zhang showed no emotion while the decision was being read in open court.

The court ordered them to pay Tiu exemplary damages of P100,000 with legal rate of interest from the date of the commission of the felony until the amounts are fully paid.

Anti-crime advocate Teresita Ang-See translated to Fookien the decision since the six did not understand English or Tagalog.

Zhang Du alias Wilson Zhang, who sneaked out of the country in cahoots with some unscrupulous agents of the Bureau of Immigration, was found guilty of being an accessory in the crime of kidnapping for ransom.

He was sentenced in absentia to six years to eight years in prison.

Rosales ordered the case against Henry Ong be archived as the court has not yet acquired jurisdiction over his person.

He also issued a warrant for the arrest of Ong.

Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon moved for the reading only of the “dispositive portion” or the part where the case states whether the accused are convicted or acquitted after the two air-conditioning units in the jam-packed courtroom bogged down before the promulgation could start.

Private defense counsel Ramon Reyes agreed with Fadullon. Two other defense lawyers failed to appear before the court, and Reyes voluntarily agreed to appear for all the six accused present in court.

In the case of carjacking, Shi Jian Hui, Xu You Kwang and Wu Chang were sentenced to 17 years and four months imprisonment.

Tiu later became the wife of retired Philippine National Police chief Arturo Lomibao, who was instrumental in the arrest of her kidnappers.

After the conviction, Tiu said: “It’s a very long wait, but it’s worth the wait.”

In a written statement, Tiu said after nine years, eight months and 20 days, the case against her kidnappers has finally come to an end.

“I thank God for giving me the strength to fight for the justice I rightfully deserve,” read the statement.

“I thank Judge Rosales for taking the side of the truth and remaining true to his sworn duty. And I thank those who joined me and my family in our quest for truth and justice.”

Tiu said on Sept. 27, 2001, armed men took her against her will in La Union, and eight days later, she was released after her father paid the ransom to the kidnappers in front of Manila Hotel in exchange for her freedom.

“Since then, life has never been the same,” she said.

Tiu said that she was never blindfolded at any point during captivity, allowing her to see her kidnappers clearly and to identify them in court.

“Right on the heels of my harrowing ordeal, I was torn between migrating to another country where I can have peace of mind, or staying behind and being scared forever,” she said. “Upon my shoulders laid the burden of deciding for my whole family. My decision would affect all their lives and our entire future.”

Tiu said she chose to stay in the Philippines.

“This is my country,” she said. “No one is going to drive me away.”

Tiu said no one has the right to barge into their lives, turn it upside down, and make her leave her own country, running scared, while her kidnappers will stay and prey on other victims.

“To me, Judge Rosales is the Lord’s instrument for all the world to see, that our country’s judiciary is not what they perceive it to be. Now, I daresay I was right. He is truly Godsent,” her statement read.

“I thank everyone who have seen me through — my family, the prosecutors headed by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon, the PNP, the MRPO, Ms. Teresita Ang-See, the media and others.”

Tiu and Lomibao arrived in court shortly before the scheduled 1:30 p.m. promulgation, which started at 1:45 p.m.

The six Chinese arrived around 12:30 p.m. from the Manila City Jail annex in Taguig City.

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