Coca Cola kidnap suspect busted in RP

MANILA, Philippines, AP

Authorities said Tuesday they have arrested the leader of a kidnap gang suspected in the abduction and slaying of a Filipino Coca-Cola executive last year.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo praised the arrest last Friday of Alexander Aldas, saying: “We are on our way to stem the recurrent tide of kidnapping in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.”

Arroyo and Interior Secretary Angelo Reyes presented a handcuffed Aldas, wearing an orange detainee T-shirt, to the media Tuesday. Aldas made no statement.

Aldas is suspected of heading the group that seized Betti Chua Sy, commercial finance director of Coca-Cola Export Corp., in November as she was driving to work.

The group shot through Sy’s car as she tried to resist, fatally wounding her in the leg. Her body, wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a plastic bag, was found a day later dumped on a seaside suburban road. Police said the kidnappers had been negotiating for a ransom with her family even while Sy was bleeding to death or was already dead.

Arroyo said a “concerned citizen” who recognized Aldas from most wanted posters tipped off police, who arrested him at a hideout in Albay province southeast of Manila.

“We have come a long way in combining media exposure with the bounty system to catch notorious criminals,” she said. In her state-of-the-nation speech Monday, Arroyo reported that her government has “beat down crime,” breaking up drug and kidnapping syndicates.

The National Anti-kidnapping Task Force said 13 of the 22 members of Aldas’ gang have been captured or have surrendered. It said Aldas also was responsible for at least nine other ransom kidnappings from December 2001 to August 2003, and also faces separate homicide and theft charges.

Ransom kidnapping is a capital offense in the Philippines.

Most of the victims, like Sy, are members of the wealthy ethnic Chinese community.