Kidnapping on the rise

Watchdog says targets include Chinoys, doctors

THERE has been a resurgence of kidnapping this year with 33 cases so far, involving 50 victims, the anti-crime group Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO) said Thursday.

Of the 50 kidnapping victims, 17 were Filipino-Chinese, including Benito Chao, 69, who was killed after his family sought police assistance, said the group’s founding chairwoman, Teresita Ang See.

In custody. Four suspects in the killing of
Inspector Roderick Medrano were presented by
the Quezon City Police Chief Richard Albano at
a press conference on Thursday. All are from
Commonwealth village in Quezon City.
Manny Palmero
She added that most of the incidents were in Luzon and Mindanao.

Chao was the only fatality so far this year, Ang See said. Of the 50 victims, 29 were freed and one escaped. Only three were rescued.

“In many instances, victims and their families are afraid and reluctant to go to the police. Our task is to encourage them to do so, and to pursue their cases to the rightful conclusions,” said MRPO chairman Ka Kuen Chua.

MRPO said kidnappings had dropped from a high of 113 in 2009 to only 41 incidents in 2012, but climbed again in 2013 to 46 cases.

Ang-See said the kidnappers were becoming bolder, carrying out their crimes in places they used to avoid. For example, she said, kidnappers used to avoid Manila because the heavy traffic made it difficult to escape.

But this year, three kidnapping cases have already been recorded in Manila – in Sta. Mesa, Divisoria and Binondo.

“The kidnappers have sufficient confidence that they can get away with it,” Ang-See added.

Aside from Filipino-Chinese, the kidnappers are also targeting doctors as victims, she said.

The MRPO report contradicted a recent police claim that the crime rate in Metro Manila has gone down in recent months.

Earlier this week, police said a photo posted on Twitter showing four men aiming guns at a Toyota Fortuner on EDSA was a kidnapping, and that they were trying to identify the gunmen.

Witnesses said the incident took place at about 2 p.m. Monday in a main thoroughfare through which 1.3 million vehicles pass daily.

The Palace ordered the Philippine National Police to beef up its intelligence gathering and surveillance operations after kidnap-for-ransom cases rose to 38 this from January to August this year, up by 22 percent from last year for the same period.

“The PNP must intensify their intelligence and surveillance efforts since some of the KFR groups are associated with other criminal syndicates and they have information on the movements of these syndicates,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

Coloma said based on PNP data, the number of kidnapping cases rose “slightly” to 38 as of last August from 31 cases for the same period last year.

Earlier, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II proposed a “one-target, one-team” policy to solve the 19 abduction cases in Luzon, including the kidnapping and murder of businessman Benito Chao last week.

“The PNP will reorient itself in order to respond to this,” Roxas said in a recent forum organized by the MRPO.

“One target, one team. They won’t do anything else but that. Every day that is the only thing they’ll talk about. They won’t be all over the place,” Roxas added.

Umbrella factory owner Chao was kidnapped on Aug. 27. He was found dead the next day with a bullet to his head.

Ang-See said 140 people had been killed because of kidnapping since the organization was put up in 1993.

At present, only 60 cases have resulted in convictions, she said.

Despite the resurgence in kidnappings, the Palace said the Philippines is a safe place.

“The President can face the world with a clear view that the Philippines is safe for investors, [and]... safe for its citizens. “There is no need to paint a disturbing picture because the situation is stable.”

But administration ally Senator Francis Escudero deplored the spate of kidnappings that were happening “under the noses of [the] police authorities.”

“Why are criminals so emboldened nowadays to perpetrate their crimes in public?” he asked.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said this is an indication of the criminals’ contempt for law and order and a clear mockery of the police.

“I ask the PNP to intensify its campaign against criminals and beef up security to protect the public. The people need to be assured that they can walk our streets to and from their homes,” he said. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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