Many kidnap cases linked to illegal drugs, gambling debts – anti-crime group
MANILA, Philippines – An anti-crime watchdog has warned that many kidnapping cases in the Philippines are not for ransom alone and are linked to illegal drugs, gambling debts and rivalry between criminal gangs.
“There are kidnapping cases that are related to illegal drugs, gambling debts in casinos, etc.,” pointed Teresita Ang See, the founding chairperson of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order.
She lamented that foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals, have been the usual victims in kidnap-for-ransom cases.
The MRPO has brought these cases to the attention of the Chinese Embassy so that their citizens would be duly warned.
But Ang-See deplored that kidnap cases have been lumped together in advisories, without distinguishing which were purely kidnap-for-ransom cases and which were complicated by links to other crimes.
“It’s a black eye. We already have a problem with the kidnapping cases. In some instances, some victims are involved in illegal drugs or gambling,” she said.
There were cases where foreign victims ended up working for criminal syndicates and were unable to break free of their situation, with their families thinking that they had been kidnapped.
The MRPO founding chairperson made the comments at a press conference in Camp Crame last week on recent accomplishments against kidnapping syndicates.
Earlier, Senior Supt. Rene Aspera, chief of the Anti-Kidnapping Group of the Philippine National Police said 43 cases of kidnapping have been recorded this year, of which 24 were solved
Of the forty-three, 21 were reported in Luzon while 22 were reported in Mindanao, with no kidnapping cases in Visayas.
From January to November 2014, the AKG arrested 65 suspects in kidnap-for-ransom cases, while one suspect was slain in an encounter with authorities.
Ang-See said the MRPO would help families of kidnapping victims even without knowing first the background of a case.
“We often advise them not to pay off if there is no proof of life,” she said, adding that Chinese nationals have remained the usual targets of kidnappers.
She also urged the AKG not to be complacent and intensify its manhunt against kidnapping groups, saying the groups have been lying low but would eventually come back with a vengeance.
Ang-See pointed out that with the holidays approaching, the public and the police should be more vigilant as crimes would likely go up during the Christmas season.
The AKG is pursuing at least eight kidnapping groups on its target list, according to Aspera, who has cited the recent arrest of three kidnap gang leaders: Reccinte Padillo, Tyrone dela Cruz, and Martin Lico.
Padillo was tagged as the mastermind in the 2013 kidnapping of businesswoman Sally Chua, who was rescued in Davao City; while Lico led a kidnap-for-ransom group also involved in robberies. Dela Cruz was charged with the 2013 kidnapping of a Filipino-Chinese couple in Laguna.