De Lima insists Burmese boy’s kidnappers demanded ransomBy Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Is the Philippine National Police trying to downplay the kidnapping of a young foreigner in Biñan, Laguna?
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima expressed surprise Wednesday that the PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) has denied that the abductors of an 8-year-old Burmese boy had demanded ransom.
In an interview, De Lima insisted that the armed men who forcibly took the victim demanded ransom for his release before the boy was “rescued” by the National Bureau of Investigation in Taytay, Rizal on Tuesday.
She also revealed that AKG operatives themselves assisted the victim’s parents in negotiating with the still unidentified kidnappers.
“I really don’t understand why the AKG has denied that there was a demand for ransom because our information is that there was indeed a ransom demand, but it did not push through,” De Lima told reporters. “The information I received is that there was supposed to be a negotiation between the kidnappers and the (victim’s) parents through the AKG.”
Asked if it was still important to determine if the abductors had asked for ransom, she replied: “It doesn’t matter. What’s more important is that we know that the boy was really kidnapped and I don’t think AKG can deny that.”
The victim, said to be a son of Burmese immigrants, was taken by heavily armed men while he was about to board his school bus in Biñan on June 22.
De Lima said NBI operatives found the boy alone inside a shanty in a low-cost housing project in Taytay around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Although the victim was returned safely to his family, De Lima said the police must pursue the investigation of the incident to identify and arrest the abductors.
The justice secretary, however, refused to disclose how much the abductors asked from the victim’s family. She said the NBI only helped in locating the victim and not in investigating the case.
She said she directed the NBI operatives to move into the house where the boy was being kept “because the time is of the essence.”
Said De Lima: “The NBI operatives were already there and they know the exact location of the boy. My instruction is to make sure that when they went ahead with that rescue operations, they should ensure the safety of the boy.”
“The NBI was there just to rescue the boy unharmed. We immediately turned over the case to the AKG because we know it’s the appropriate agency to handle that.”
De Lima said she would meet with Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to clarify why the PNP disputed the NBI’s report on the incident.
She said she has also informed President Aquino about the NBI’s “successful rescue” operation.