Journalist's daughter abducted in heist

By Dante M. Fabian and Ria Isidro-de Fiesta

ANGELES CITY -- A hold-up robbery gang took the daughter of a local journalist hostage last Wednesday after a foiled attempt to run off with a pawnshop's cash and valuables.

Police identified the victim as Pilar S. Pelayo, cashier of the Blue Gem pawnshop at the San Nicolas market here and daughter of veteran journalist Max Sangil.

Police said the suspects, clad in PNP Swat uniforms during the failed robbery, are believed to be the same group who robbed the Cebuana Lhuiller pawnshop in Barangay Balibago last month of some P6.7 million.

The suspects, seen with high-powered firearms, also took the shop's caretaker, identified as Ernesto Castro, as hostage in a separate incident.

Police said the suspects also took Pelayo's vehicle, a gold colored Mazda 323 with plate number WFM 520.

Pelayo was reported missing after her sisters and friends said she failed to attend the wake of a friend's parent at the Funeraria Angelina.

She was last seen leaving the car park near her workplace. Police are still trying to determine the exact point where the suspects abducted her.

Sangil, also a regular Sun.Star Pampanga columnist, could not be reached for comment.

Castro, meanwhile, was found by police inside a green Mitsubishi Adventure van, abandoned by the suspects, near a gasoline station along the North Luzon Expressway in Bocaue, Bulacan midnight.

Together with Castro was the owner of the said van, who claimed that the suspects, including two women, rented and boarded his van in Bocaue town that morning.

He further said that as they approached the San Fernando interchange, a Tamaraw FX van cut off his path and his passengers instructed him to stop his van.

The suspects then gagged him and threw him in the back of the van while one of them drove to Angeles City.

Castro, on the other hand, related to investigators he was on his way home when he was "arrested" by armed men in police uniforms who served him a warrant of arrest for an alleged rape case.

When he resisted, Castro said the men beat him up, hit him with the rear of a rifle and then shoved him into the van where he was thrown beside the van owner.

Combined agents of the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division (RIID) and the Angeles City police are now searching for Pelayo.

Gov. Manuel "Lito" Lapid and Mayor Carmelo F. Lazatin also asked the police to immediately conduct a search and rescue for the victim.

Senior Supt. Jimmy F. Restua, Angeles City Police Office (ACPO) director, said they learned of the incident when bystanders reported Castro's supposed arrest by the so-called "policemen" to his brother, councilman Michael Castro.

The councilman alerted the police who became suspicious when they learned that Castro's brother has the keys to the said pawnshop. The incident is similar to the Cebuana Lhuillier pawnshop robbery a month ago.

Restua then instructed station chiefs to set up a police cordon around the vicinity where the pawnshop is located and ordered the setting up of check points to block the possible escape routes of the suspects.

The suspects, however, immediately fled upon learning the policemen were alerted of the ongoing robbery.

Police theorized that the suspects might include members who are very familiar with the city roads.

They said the group might also be quipped with very powerful radio transceivers that can jam the police frequency. Sun.Star Pampanga


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