The country’s top cop insists that reports of a kidnapping wave are all hype.
But what if it’s the Chinese Embassy in Manila that’s already worried sick that there’s one too many cases of their nationals being abducted by unknown persons quite possibly by members of kidnap-for-ransom syndicates that include Chinese nationals themselves?
Last week, the Embassy said it had requested Philippine authorities to intensify efforts to protect its nationals amid a recent spate of kidnappings involving Chinese victims.
The embassy said it had immediately checked and verified specific cases, held discussions with Chinese-Filipino communities, and made representations with Philippine law enforcement authorities to protect the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens here.
The embassy noted that in recent years, there had been frequent cases of kidnapping, blackmail, illegal detention, and other cases targeting its nationals due to online gaming and telecommunications fraud.
The embassy urged Philippine agencies to strengthen bilateral law enforcement cooperation aimed at cracking down on kidnapping, blackmail, illegal detention, and other criminal acts that endanger its nationals.
But at the same time, it also reminded its citizens to stay away from online gambling and telecommunications fraud, and avoid falling into gambling-related blackmailing and torture cases.
Also last week, the Senate began hearing on the “kidnapping wave” that had reportedly victimized dozens, including Chinese and Filipinos, and the spread of disturbing videos showing supposed victims being tortured by their captors, some of whom appeared to be foreigners.
According to Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee and a former PNP chief, he wants the PNP to shed light on videos and reports from various sources.
Senators Grace Poe and JV Ejercito also pushed for the inquiry in separate resolutions as they also called on the PNP to stop the spate of abductions.
Sen. Poe noted that conflicting statistics about the number of cases presented by the PNP caused “undue and unnecessary anxiety and fear (among) our countrymen.”
She said that while the PNP had tried to downplay the string of kidnappings, there were many news reports and videos of such incidents on mainstream and social media.
Sen. Ejercito said he was particularly disturbed by the proliferation of video clips on various messaging apps and social media platforms showing people, believed to be kidnap victims, being tortured.
He urged President Marcos Jr. to issue a statement directing the police to solve the kidnappings as he speculated that criminal syndicates may be “testing the waters.”
PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin continues to deny the supposed widespread kidnappings of Chinese-Filipino nationals in Metro Manila although he said he had deployed more policemen near Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) establishments in the capital region amid an increasing number of abducted Pogo workers.
But for how long can he possibly ignore a problem that stares him in the face amid expressions of grave concern from both the Chinese embassy and lawmakers?