RP’s most wanted kidnapper falls

The country’s most wanted kidnapper fell into the hands of authorities following several years in hiding just moments after the plane that was carrying him landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Flying in from Singapore, Rolando Fajardo, the alleged leader of a syndicate responsible for prominent kidnap-for-ransom heists—including that of Japanese businessman Noboyuki Wakaoji in 1986—was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the arrival area.

“He didn’t see it coming,” NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula said.

During the flight, a female intelligence agent named Anna had been assigned to sit beside the fugitive to monitor his movements, Gatdula said. Fajardo has nine standing warrants for kidnapping for ransom and another for car theft, he added.

A P1 million reward had been put up for information that might lead to Fajardo’s arrest, the same bounty that had been offered for his younger brother, Harold, who remains in hiding.

A Filipino informant had tipped the NBI about Fajardo’s flight home, Gatdula said, adding that coordination efforts had also been taken with the NBI’s European counterparts.

Fajardo had been living in an unspecified city in Italy for years before he decided to return to the country using travel documents with his real name, Gatdula said.

He flew home on Singapore Airlines Flight 910 that arrived at the Naia at 1:29 p.m.

Only on Philippine soil

Gatdula said the agents could arrest Fajardo only on Philippine soil, and that although he did not know it, he had no chance to resist or evade arrest at any point during his journey and disembarkation as he was being closely watched.

Wearing a cap, sunglasses, and a jacket, a stoic Fajardo, who was in handcuffs, said: “I came home to break my silence and tell everyone that I did nothing wrong.”

He said the new administration gave him hope that he would get justice and the chance to clear his name. At first, he shook his head when reporters asked him for a statement, but upon prodding, he answered questions until arresting officers put a stop to it.

Fajardo and his brother, natives of Tanauan City, had been in hiding since they were charged with the kidnapping of Wakaoji, a Mitsui and Co. executive, at a Canlubang, Laguna golf course in November 1986.

The NBI said a P1 million bounty had been set by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the brothers but an updated wanted poster set a P2 million reward for their arrest.

In a 2004 National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force wanted poster, Rolando was listed as being 35 years old, and Harold 32. This, however, would make Rolando 17 and Harold 14 at the time of the 1986 Wakaoji kidnapping.

Gatdula said the NBI was still verifying Fajardo’s age.

In March 2004, a team composed of agents of the NBI, military special forces and intelligence units mistakenly announced that Fajardo had been arrested in Barangay del Remegio, San Pablo City, Laguna.

That operation came just days after the Fajardo brothers slipped from the grasp of authorities who raided their houses in Barangays Pantay na Matanda and Pagaspas in Tanauan City.