Kidnapped Burmese boy rescuedBy Jeannette I. Andrade
Left to starve in a shanty that served as his prison for four days, an 8-year-old Burmese boy kidnapped in Laguna province on Friday was found abandoned Tuesday morning in Taytay, Rizal province, by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation.
The boy’s first word upon seeing the agents: “Gutom (hungry).” He later asked for fried chicken.
NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations Virgilio Mendez said the boy was rescued at around 9:30 a.m. in a shanty within Pinesville Subdivision on a tip from an anonymous caller.
Mendez said the minor was the same boy reported kidnapped on his way to his school in Biñan, Laguna, early Friday morning. But he maintained that this was only established by the NBI after the operation.
Reports earlier reaching the local police said the child was on a school bus with 13 other children when four men in a red car and armed with automatic rifles blocked the bus’s path and took the Burmese boy.
The kidnappers later allegedly demanded a P20-million ransom from the boy’s parents, who were initially reported to be owners of a food processing factory in Laguna, Mendez said, citing a report from the Philippine National Police antikidnapping group.
But sources in the Biñan police and the local government said the boy was more likely a victim of mistaken identity since his parents were not businessmen but factory workers. They said the boy may have been mistaken for the son of the factory’s Chinese owners.
“We were told that a child was locked up in that shanty and that there were two men who were constantly seen in its vicinity,” Mendez said Tuesday.
With a clearance from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, “we went there only with the specific purpose of rescuing the child, whom we immediately perceived to be a kidnap victim based on the initial information we received,” Mendez stressed.
“When our agents rescued him, he was alone in a small room, crying and trembling. The door had been secured with a chain and a padlock,” Mendez said.
He said the boy was imprisoned in a room measuring about ten square meters and propped up by bamboo poles.
Apart from being famished, the boy also appeared to be sleep-deprived when found. “After he was fed and brought here to our headquarters, he immediately fell asleep. Save for mosquito bites, he had no visible injuries.”
The boy’s reunion with his parents “was very touching,” he said. “They wouldn’t let go of him and they were in tears, saying ‘thank you’ over and over again.”
But Mendez conceded that the NBI still had no lead on the identity of the boy’s kidnappers. With a report from Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon