A ranking member of the New People’s Army (NPA) yesterday entered a not guilty plea in the 2016 kidnapping of five police officers in Barangay Paquibato Proper, Paquibato District.
Leonilo Sumampong Gonzales, alias Kumander Banakon, is the fourth accused to enter the same plea in the case now heard before the sala of Judge Retrina Fuentes of Regional Trial Court Branch 10.
Gonzales is one of the 29 accused – mostly NPA members and supporters – in the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of Chief Inspector (Major) Leonardo Tarongoy, then station commander of the rebel-infested Paquibato, and his subordinates Rosenie Cabuenas, Rudolf Paceta and Abdul Aziz Ali, and Neil Arellano on April 16, 2016. The victims were held against their will without any food for nine days. They were later released to then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who intervened in the case.
Fuentes set on Feb. 20 the next hearing of the case.
Gonzales, said to be a team leader of the NPA’s Pulang Bagani, was arrested in Barangay San Roque, New Corella, Davao del Norte on Aug. 11, 2019, three years after the alleged kidnapping incident.
Three of his co-accused, Elizalde Tormis Cañete alias Kumander Jinggoy, Gulberto Aligato alias Ka Boging and Wilfredo Bitacura were arrested ahead of Gonzales. The three detained accused, all officers of Pulang Bagani, earlier entered plea of not guilty.
Twenty-six other rebels are still at large.