Hearing of Tiu kidnapping case set anew
- Evelyn Macairan () - August 13, 2006 - 12:00am
The sixth judge to handle the kidnapping case of Filipino-Chinese businesswoman Jackie Rowena Tiu, who was allegedly abducted by seven Chinese nationals in 2001, has set the hearing on Sept. 12.

Clerk 3 Willie Giron, of Branch 3 of the Manila City Regional Trial Court (MCRTC), said they already sent out the notices of order to the legal counsels of the petitioners and the accused last Aug. 10.

The two-page order was signed by Branch 3 Judge Antonio de Castro.

"As these consolidated cases were raffled to Branch 10 and assigned to this court due to inhibition, let the continuation of the presentation of evidence for the defense be set to Sept. 12," Castro stated in his order.

The letter was addressed to private prosecutor Edmund Rimando, State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, and defense lawyers Ramon Reyes and Fabian Bautista.

The respondents — 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; Zhang Xi Wang, alias Michael Zang; and Zhang Du, alias Wilson Du — are facing kidnap-for-ransom and car theft charges.

All the suspects are detained except for Zhang, who escaped from the Bureau of Immigration (BI) detention center and reportedly fled to China.

Castro is the sixth judge to hear the kidnapping case of Tiu. The four previous judges who presided over the case were Antonio Carbonel, Adolfo Alagar, Robert Cawed, and Rose Mary Alim.

The fifth Judge Virgilio Alameda, of Branch 10 of the MCRTC, did not try the case as he granted the motion filed by Reyes urging him to inhibit from the case. Reyes said in his petition that they lost their confidence on the impartiality of the court when Alameda held a close-door meeting with then Director General Arturo Lomibao after the April 21 hearing.

Alameda, however, denied that he committed any impropriety and that no secret meeting took place between him and Lomibao.

The judge explained that the meeting was only a short visit and Lomibao only asked him if he feels secured and if he has a gun. The official, he said, did not to exert pressure on the court.

The Tiu case was raffled to another branch. Personnel at Branch 3 which got the case said Judge De Castro is a seasoned court official who has been with Branch 3 for about 12 years.

Records showed that at around 8:20 a.m. of Sept. 27, 2001, Tiu and her mother Rebecca were on board a silver Honda Civic, with license plate ADD-111, and were on their way to their hardware store, the La Union New Capital Lumber-Hardware Co. Inc., at 183 B. P. Burgos Street, San Fernando, La Union, when a tinted maroon Mitsubishi Adventure bumped the right rear side of their vehicle.

The two women alighted from their car but the three men from the Mitsubushi Adventure also alighted, approached them and commandeered their vehicle. The elder Tiu was allowed to flee on foot.

The kidnappers initially demanded $1 million from the Tiu family for Jackie’s release but after negotiations from her family, the amount went down to P10 million.

The pay off was set at the Lai-Lai Hotel along Ongpin street in Binondo, Manila. The ransom was, however, paid later at the Manila Hotel. Tiu was released at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The seven-man team split into two groups. Five men who carried the ransom proceeded to another hotel while two were apprehended by the authorities at their safehouse in Bacoor, Cavite.

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