The Philippine National Police has assured other countries, especially the United States, that the government is in full control of its security situation, after the US State Department named the Philippines as one of the countries with a high risk of kidnapping.
PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said it is the obligation of any state to warn its citizens of all the kinds of dangers in any part of the world, especially if the security assessment is valid.
“We cannot blame them. They are just doing their job of protecting their citizens. We will certainly do the same thing,” said Albayalde.
Albayalde said while it is true that there are kidnapping incidents especially in Mindanao, mostly perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group and its affiliate syndicates, he said “there are only certain portions or parts in Mindanao that are quite critical because of presence of some threat groups.”
For his part, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año said kidnapping cases in the country have been on a downward trend in recent years because of the government’s relentless anti-crime program.
“A list is just a list. What we have are factual data pointing to the decreasing number of kidnapping cases in the Philippines. That’s what we are banking on,” Año said.
“We do not know yet how they came up with the list but with the strong stance of President Rodrigo Duterte against criminality in general, we see no basis for including us in this list. We will request from the US Embassy what were the parameters used since even Malaysia and Russia were included,” he said.
According to the data of the PNP, there were only 68 cases of kidnapping in the country in 2018, most of which were in Mindanao, 11 cases lower than in 2017. As of April 2019, there were only 10 cases of kidnapping.
The DILG chief also said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao has made it safer for visitors.
“While personal precaution is necessary, martial law has allowed the Philippine government to deploy more security forces to Mindanao to ensure the safety of the people and foreign guests,” he said.
He added that the inauguration of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao also marks another milestone in the government’s drive for lasting peace and order in Mindanao “where kidnapping cannot foster and security and development will be a priority.’’
The US State Department has named the Philippines among 35 countries, together with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and even Malaysia and Russia that have a high risk of kidnapping, advising Americans to take extra caution when traveling in these countries