PNP anti-kidnapping unit brushes aside calls to revive PacerBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – The new anti-kidnapping arm of the Philippine National Police on Saturday dismissed calls for the revival of its predecessor, the Presidential Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (Pacer), amid criticisms that the replacement unit was ineffective against organized crime.
On the contrary, the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), which replaced Pacer in February, said its partnership with community leaders and stakeholders was just as strong, especially in the fight against kidnapping-for-ransom syndicates.
In a statement, AKG head Senior Superintendent Isagani Nerez, who formerly headed Pacer, said AKG “continues to enjoy strong support from its anti-crime advocacy partners, which have renewed their commitment to actively participate in the government’s efforts to curb kidnapping.”
He cited his unit’s partnership with such groups as the Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO), the Alliance for Peace and Order, and the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association.
Nerez was responding to comments by MRPO founder Teresita Ang See, who sought Pacer’s revival purportedly because her group was having problems coordinating with the AKG.
Pacer was formed in 2002 in response to a series of high-profile kidnapping cases the previous year.
In February, the police high command demobilized the task force and organized the AKG with the same head but now granted “fiscal autonomy” as a regular national operating support unit of the police, as well as prospects of career advancement for its personnel.
Nerez said the activation of AKG resulted in “a better equipped anti-kidnapping force and a heightened degree of professionalism among its personnel.”
“AKG is actually an improved version of the PACER. It is a bigger and permanent anti-kidnapping unit,” he said.
Compared to Pacer, AKG has a fixed and bigger budget under General Appropriation Act, and better career paths for its members, Nerez added.
“Before there was no clear career path for Pacer personnel since it was a task force, they are overlooked in the promotion system of the PNP, hence it is a source of demoralization among them,” he said.
In a previous interview, Superintendent Rolando Miranda, AKG operations chief, said the unit had so far recorded only four kidnapping-for-ransom incidents in 2012, compared to 11 incidents the year before, belying criticisms of a kidnapping upsurge.
But that figure applies only to kidnapping incidents perpetrated by organized crime groups, and does not include other cases of abduction, including missing persons and child custody cases, and terrorism-related kidnapping, he said.