Kidnap incidents on the rise – Ang-See

Published by rudy Date posted on March 31, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Incidents of kidnapping for ransom rose sharply in the first quarter of the year and some of the victims were foreign nationals, according to an anti-crime movement.

Teresita Ang-See, founding chairman of the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order, said a total of 40 kidnap-for-ransom incidents were recorded nationwide from January to March this year or half the figure reported in 2008.

“This is already half of the total kidnapping incidents reported last year,” Ang-See told the weekly Kapihan sa Manila media forum. She blamed the economic crisis for the surge in kidnap-for-ransom cases.

She said most of the kidnap victims were businessmen. Of the 40 kidnap victims between January and March, Indians, Koreans, and Chinese comprised two each. An Italian, a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan were also among the victims.

Ang-See said that in the last two years, her group noted a decline in the number of kidnap-for-ransom incidents. In 2006, a total of 43 kidnap-for-ransom incidents were reported, she said.

“In the last two years, kidnap for ransom groups laid low, but now they are hungry again,” Ang-See said.

She said there was a 60 percent drop in the number of kidnap-for-ransom incidents last year compared to the previous year.

Since 1993 when they started recording kidnap-for-ransom incidents, Ang-See said Filipino victims have outnumbered “Tsinoy” or Filipino-Chinese victims.

She said that based on report, families of Filipino victims pay higher ransom than Filipino-Chinese.

Among the victims were two batches of teachers in Mindanao who remain unaccounted for.

The victims also include businessman Henry Sia who was kidnapped in Sta. Cruz in Manila last February and released after paying P10 million ransom. His kidnappers were later arrested.

Eight-year-old Cedric Romero, grandson of Mangaldan, Pangasinan Mayor Herminio Romero, was recently released after paying P550,000. Three of the six kidnappers were arrested and P200,000 of the loot recovered. Some reports said P3 million had actually changed hands.

“There were incidents of ransom being paid but the victims were never released,” she said.

“We have been going around the country conducting lecture on anti-crime prevention. We conduct lectures in exclusive schools and exclusive subdivisions,” Ang-See said.

“We recently held a seminar on crime prevention in Cebu,” she said.

“Two weeks ago we also conducted lecture at the Araneta Village in Malabon, where five incidents of KFR have been recorded since November 2008. All of them were released after paying ransom,” she said.

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Director Leopoldo Bataoil, who was at the same forum, said the police are working vigorously with Ang-See’s group in addressing the problem.

Mostly in Mindanao

The Philippine National Police has confirmed Ang-See’s claim of a surge in kidnap-for-ransom cases, but clarified that most of the abductions took place in Mindanao.

Senior Superintendent Leonardo Espina, chief of the PNP-Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response or PACER said at least six kidnap victims remain in the hands of their abductors in some areas in Mindanao.

Espina was referring to International Committee of the Red Cross staff Mary Jean Lacaba, Italian Eugene Vagni, and Swiss Andreas Notter who have been held captive by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf in Sulu since Jan. 15. Three teachers are also being held by bandits also in Mindanao.

He said only four of the 17 kidnappings that took place from January to March this year were perpetrated by kidnap-for-ransom syndicates. The rest were reportedly carried out by “amateurs” and other groups.

Espina also echoed Ang-See’s observation that wealthy Filipino-Chinese don’t make up the majority of kidnap victims anymore unlike in the 1990s.

“The PNP, through PACER has been closely coordinating with other government agencies in an effort to address the kidnapping incidents in Mindanao,” said Espina.

The PACER chief also pointed out that house helps were the perpetrators of some kidnap-for-ransom cases in Metro Manila.

Espina also noted that some individuals resort to kidnapping for personal reasons or to avoid collection of debts as in some cases involving Indian moneylenders.

“Although technically it falls under the category of kidnapping for ransom cases, they were still different from the kidnapping incidents in the past. But we are doing our best to address all these concerns,” he stressed.

Espina also said there had also been cases of “kidnap-me” in which the “victim” arranges his or her own kidnapping to collect ransom from family members or loved ones.

RELATED STORIES ON KIDNAPPING: MILF tagged in Sri Lankan kidnapping in Basilan, More soldiers fielded amid kidnapping threats, RP beefing up police forces to handle kidnapping in south, Cebu City police to turn over “kidnapping” case to PACER, Kidnapping affects Red Cross operation in Mindanao. –Helen Flores, Philippine Star

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