New PNP antikidnap arm bucks revival of PacerBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The new antikidnapping arm of the Philippine National Police has dismissed calls for the revival of its predecessor, the Presidential Anti-Crime and Emergency Response (Pacer) team, amid criticism the new unit was ineffective against organized crime.
On the contrary, the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) that replaced Pacer in February said its partnership with local community leaders and anticrime stakeholders was just as strong as the former group, especially in the fight against kidnap for ransom gangs.
In a statement, AKG head Senior Superintendent Isagani Nerez, the former leader of Pacer, said AKG “continues to enjoy strong support from its anticrime advocacy partners, which have renewed their commitment to actively participate in the government’s efforts to curb kidnapping.”
He cited the unit’s partnership with such groups as the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO), Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Alliance for Peace and Order, and the Philippine Chinese Charitable Association.
Nerez’s statement apparently was in reaction to comments made by MRPO founder Teresita Ang See who had sought Pacer’s revival purportedly because her group was having problems working with the AKG.
Pacer was formed in 2002 in response to a series of high-profile abductions the previous year.
In February this year, the police high command demobilized the task force and organized the AKG under the same leader but granted it “fiscal autonomy” as a regular national operating police unit.
Nerez said the activation of AKG resulted in “a better equipped antikidnapping force and a heightened degree of professionalism among its personnel.”
“AKG is actually an improved version of Pacer; it is a bigger and more permanent antikidnapping unit,” he said.
Compared to Pacer, AKG has a bigger fixed allocation in the General Appropriations Act or the national budget and better career paths for its members, Nerez said.
“There was no clear career path for Pacer personnel since it was a task force. They were overlooked in the PNP promotion system, hence there was demoralization among them,” he said.
In an earlier interview, Superintendent Rolando Miranda, AKG operations chief, said the unit has so far recorded only four kidnap for ransom incidents in 2012 perpetrated by organized crime groups, compared to 11 incidents the year before, belying allegations of a kidnapping upsurge.