A CALL center worker admitted yesterday that she kidnapped a baby from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) last Monday afternoon.
But her appeals aren’t likely to stop the baby’s parents and VSMMC officials from filing a criminal case against her today.
“Mangayo lang kog pasaylo(I’ll ask for forgiveness),” Melissa Londres, 26, told reporters while crying. “Wa man nako giunsa ang bata. Giatiman nako. Giampingan nako (I didn’t harm the baby. I took good care of him.”
Londres kept the baby for a little over 30 hours, before the police caught her in her boyfriend Philip Winfred Almeria’s house in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.
The boy’s father Jonathan said he and his wife Jayvee can forgive her, but they will still file a complaint against Londres to teach her a lesson.
“Tubagon gyud niya ang iyang gibuhat (She has to answer for what she did),” he said in a phone interview.
The man who first tipped the police about Londres’s location received yesterday afternoon a P100,000 reward from VSMMC Medical Director Dr. Gerardo Aquino through Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 Chief Marlon Tayaba.
Tayaba said that the informant is a member of the law enforcement agency’s citizens’ arm, the Community Cooperation Towards Law and Order Pursuit (Cyclops).
If proven guilty of kidnapping the baby from the hospital, Londres may have to bid goodbye to her boyfriend and spend the next 40 years of her life in jail.
The CIDG is planning to file the criminal complaints against her today before the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor.
Kidnapping is a non-bailable offense, meaning the accused cannot pay for her temporary release once the case is filed.
After she was arrested last Tuesday night, Londres insisted Prince Niño Celadenia is her son with her boyfriend Almeria.
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Mary Jane, Londres’s mother, said she is praying the boy’s parents will forgive them.
Before the boy was rescued last Tuesday night, Jonathan sought help from Cebu City Police Station 2, CIDG 7 and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7.
Jonathan, accompanied by the police and VSMMC officials, brought Prince Niño to his mother past 10 p.m. last Tuesday.
“Pwerte niyang hilak sa dihang iya nang nakita balik among bata (She wept when she saw our baby again),” he said.
Meanwhile, NBI 7 Assistant Director Augusto Eric Isidoro said they stopped their investigation after CIDG 7 operatives rescued the boy and arrested Londres.
He said the hospital’s security team committed lapses because they failed to prevent the woman from leaving VSMMC’s premises with the baby last Monday afternoon.
Londres was wearing white scrubs, but she had no identification card.
In a press conference, Dr. Gerardo Aquino, VSMMC medical director, told reporters that seven security guards assigned in the area where the kidnapping occurred have been advised to take a leave, pending an investigation.
Aquino said that if the results of their investigation support it, they will consider changing their security guards.
Currently, the VSMMC has 71 security guards.
Dr. Aquino said they have strong policies particularly when it comes to securing their patients, but implementation has been lax.
Aside from strictly implementing security policies, hospital officials are considering putting up additional measures such as electronic IDs for their employees and medical staff.
CIDG 7 Chief Marlon Tayaba also assured there is no backing out of filing the case.
“Because the victim’s a child, the case will still stand. The government can push through the case with the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) and CIDG as complainants (should the parents decide not to press charges),” he said.
Following Londres’s confession yesterday that she did steal the baby, the CIDG marked the case as “solved” and “closed”, at least for the kidnapping angle.
Tayaba suggested that security management in the VSMMC be investigated, too.
He clarified, however, that it is no longer within the jurisdiction of the CIDG to investigate security agencies, those handling security guards, and their firearms and training.
He said it depends on the Firearms, Explosives, Security Agencies and Guards Supervision unit of the Police Regional Office 7 if they want to launch an investigation as well.
Security camera footage showed that Londres surveyed the VSMMC at least three times before she took the baby last Monday.
Tayaba said there is no assurance, too, that the suspect really committed the crime for personal reasons, as she gave a reason similar to that of a woman who allegedly kidnapped an infant from the Cebu South Bus Terminal last Nov. 2.
Londres’s boyfriend Almeria also remains in police custody, as the investigation on whether he was involved or not has yet to be completed.
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, Department of Health (DOH) 7 director, told reporters that the incident has served as a “wake-up call” not just for VSMMC, but for all hospitals.
Bernadas also emphasized the need for all hospitals to install closed-circuit television cameras to deter crime inside their facilities.
“We are learning from this incident. We assure the public that our medical institutions are taking measures to avoid the same incident,” he added.