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DOJ resolution on Gatdula kidnapping case may be out by November

(Updated 4:29 p.m.) The kidnapping and extortion case filed against sacked National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Magtanggol Gatdula is now up for resolution at the Department of Justice (DOJ). This was after a DOJ panel on Monday wrapped up its preliminary investigation on the case, months after it started. “This is the last day of hearing for the preliminary investigation. This is the longest preliminary investigation. It started last March,” senior state prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera told reporters after the day’s proceedings. He said the panel may release its resolution in November. Gatdula, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1976, was implicated in the alleged kidnapping of Japanese national Noriyo Ohara by NBI agents on October 29 last year. In exchange for her freedom, NBI agents allegedly demanded P15 million from her foster family. The demand was eventually slashed to P6 million.  Ohara, 33, currently under the government’s Witness Protection Program, arrived in the Philippines in 2009 and had assumed a Filipino identity.   Apart from Gatdula, also implicated in the case were Mario Garcia, special investigator and former chief of the NBI-Security Management Division (SMD); NBI asset Chona Ellen Esplana; Raul Dimaano, special assistant director for Gatdula; and Cabillan, former executive officer of the NBI-SMD. Gatdula, who has denied the accusation, was sacked from office last January in connection with the accusations hurled against him.   Gatdula attends hearing   Monday’s hearing was the only proceeding attended by Gatdula. He submitted a rejoinder affidavit in addition to his earlier counter-affidavit. He, however, refused to be interviewed by the media. In his rejoinder, Gatdula said he has four new witnesses who could testify against Ohara’s claim of kidnapping and physical violence. “It is the Deputy Director of Administrative Affairs that has personally and direct control over the SMD, and not the NBI Director. Thus, respondent Gatdula cannot be prosecuted for the acts of the NBI agents who are not under his direct control. Besides, herein respondent cannot be charged with a crime which he has no knowledge of,” Gatdula said in his rejoinder.   “Ang apat na testigo namin ay nagpapatunay na ‘yung sinasabi ni Ohara sa kanyang affidavit ay walang katotohanan. Hindi ho siya tinakot,” Gatdula’s legal counsel Abraham Espejo later told reporters.   Espejo said Ohara's case was a “kidnap me.”   “Sa mga testimony ng witnesses namin, it appears na dumating si Ohara sa opisina ni director kasama ang isang Japanese police officer at sila ay nagtatawanan nang pumasok sila sa opisina. Sila ay lumabas doon lahat na nakangiti. Ang taong kinidnap ay di ganun,” he said.  — KBK/RSj, GMA News