At least 5 dead in San Pablo kidnap rescue operation

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Five people were shot dead early morning Tuesday, April 10, after police rescued a kidnap victim in San Pablo, Laguna.

According to the police report, Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) operatives together with Candelaria, Quezon cops were supposed to pay for the release of abductee Ronaldo Arguelles, who was kidnapped in Candelaria on Monday, April 9.

The cops were on their way to pay for the release when they chanced upon the vehicle of the suspects in Arguelles' kidnapping along Maharlika Highway in Barangay San Nicolas, San Pablo, Laguna.

The law enforcers pursued, triggering a gunfight.

The killed suspects were initially identified through their police uniforms. Their real identities were revealed later:

Police also gave the names Kent Lim and Marcelino Sican. It is unclear which of them is Adalla and Fernandez.

Another body that was recovered from the scene has yet to be identified.

Four cops were injured during the encounter. One of them, Police Officer 1 Zarah Jane Andal, died later Tuesday.

Police also recovered a Thompson rifle, two caliber 45 pistols, two hand grenades, and assorted ammunition.

Are they cops? PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa clarified on Tuesday, April 10 that the slain suspects were not members of the police force—they only wore police uniforms.

The top cop lamented that police uniforms can easily be faked, turning into a thorn for the PNP as many have forged duty overalls to easily execute crimes.

"New People's Army nga nakabili dahil itong ating clothing uniform ng pulis ay masyadong highly commercialized. Hindi natin nakokontrol. Kung striktuhan 'man natin that only the PNP can make that kind of uniform, magagalit naman itong mga supplier, taga-labas mga negosyante," Dela Rosa said.

(Even the New People's Army buys our uniform because our police uniform is too commercialized. We cannot control. If we tighten rules to make only the PNP can make the uniform, suppliers would get angry, businessmen from outside.) –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.