CAGAYAN DE ORO -- A lady fiscal who handles a roster of high-profile cases outmaneuvered two male attackers who allegedly tried to abduct her Tuesday noon outside a school in this city.
Prosecutor Irene A. Meso said she was about to reach for her car key upon entering her Toyota sedan when the two men appeared from nowhere and gained entry of the car’s driver and backseats, both trying to seize her from all directions to get a grip of her.
Reddish scratches were still visible from the prosecutor’s face and neck when she spoke to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro at the Macasandig Police Station, where her case is under investigation.
Meso, 34, said she used her hands to parry attempts to strangle her, got out of the car in split-seconds and screamed at her attackers to attract attention from the public outside the Lourdes College in Barangay Macasandig.
“Fortunately onlookers immediately started surrounding the place, but I could not help but shout more, perhaps out of fear for what had just happened,” she told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
Seeing that more and more onlookers were beginning to gather around the area, one of the men invented a ruse, Meso said.
“The man, the one who grappled with me in the driver’s seat, told the people around that we were lovers, as if the whole incident was just a domestic matter,” she said.
Jacinto J. Oco, a traffic aide who witnessed the incident, said the two men calmly walked to their vehicle, a red Mitsubishi Strada, which was positioned just a meter away from the prosecutor’s car, a Toyota Vios bearing license plate KDZ-329.
Seeing that Meso was still screaming at the men, Oco said he tried to stop the car but the driver accelerated instead, nearly hitting him.
“I almost fell on the drainage when I tried to avoid the speeding car. We gave chase but their vehicle was faster than ours,” he said.
Meso said her back ached from the blows she received from the two men. She was also horrified to learn later in the afternoon that a wrench had been left by the men inside her car.
“Maybe they planned to immobilize me with that wrench,” she said.
Despite the horror, Meso was able to mentally record the license plate of her attackers’ gateway car: GDD-899, Mitsubishi Strada, color red.
Meso, a mother of two, had just dropped her children off two schools when the incident occurred around 12 noon.
Her superior, Regional State Prosecutor Jaime L. Umpa, said he had no doubt the incident had been a kidnapping attempt.
“Prosecutor Meso, one of our bravest fiscals in the region, currently handles high-profile cases ranging from illegal drugs, murder, rape, to rebellion,” Umpa said.
“It could be that this incident is tied to one of these cases.”
A pursuit operation by the Macasandig Police Station and Highway Patrol three hours after the incident promised a good break: A check at the Land Transportation Office traced the name and address of the getaway vehicle.
However, the pickup type vehicle bearing license plate GDD-899 inside Villa Angela Subdivison in Barangay Balulang was a red Mazda, not Mitsubishi Strada.
The caretakers of the house to which the Mazda vehicle belongs declined to be interviewed because the owner was not present when police swooped to the area around 4 p.m.
Probers said the getaway vehicle may have been carrying a fake license plate.
Based on the initial investigation, Umpa said the incident may have been “carefully planned.”
“That the type and color of the two vehicles matched could have meant that the brains behind this foiled kidnapping had planned of this well. More likely, they sought and found a vehicle closely resembling theirs and copied the plate number,” he said.
Among the high-profile cases Meso is currently handling is the rebellion case against Alfredo Mapano, said to be the highest ranking cadre of the New People's Army in Northern Mindanao. Mapano was captured in Cagayan de Oro last year.
Meso also handles several drug cases in Cagayan de Oro and the rape case filed against three policemen in Lanao del Norte last year. (Annabelle L. Ricalde of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro)