MANILA, Philippines?The new chief of the Manila Police District (MPD) is facing charges of abducting, ironically, two Hong Kong residents in the Philippines in 1998 and 1999.
Senior Supt. Francisco Villaroman is among police officers charged in the disappearance of Chong Hiu Ming and Wong Kam Chong, according to documents in the Inquirer?s possession since 2008.
Villaroman took over the MPD from Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay after the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident on Monday which resulted in the deaths of eight tourists, mostly Chinese from Hong Kong.
The incident, shown on international TV, sparked outrage in Hong Kong and the rest of the world and has strained relations between the Philippines and the Chinese special administrative region.
According to the documents, Chong was abducted in Binondo, Manila, on Dec. 30, 1998, while Wong was taken in Damar Village, Quezon City, on March 26, 1999.
Members of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) and the PNP Narcotics Group, both since defunct, abducted the two, the documents said.
The two were said to be the subjects of two police operations code-named ?Athena? and ?Cyclops? which were intended to flush out, identify and neutralize drug syndicates operating in the country.
The documents said, however, that Chong and Wong were abducted for ransom.
This was confirmed by Mary Ong, alias Rosebud, who was the principal agent in the operations, in an interview with the Inquirer Thursday.
?The two operations started out as legitimate operations but in the end they became more about the police abducting and killing suspected drug lords and selling the drugs for money. It became a money-making scheme,? she said.
She told the Inquirer the remains of two persons believed to be Chong and Wong were unearthed in Indang, Cavite, a few years ago. ?The two were illegally detained and heavily tortured,? she said.
Ong said the operations caused the death of former Nargroup intelligence chief Supt. John Campos, said to be her former lover.
Campos, Ong claimed, was poised to tell all he knew about the operations when he was killed in December 2002 in Parañaque City.
In 2001, the wives of Chong and Wong, Hung Chin Sum and Lau Yuet Queena, asked the Philippine and Chinese governments to get the cases of their husbands moving but they went nowhere for lack of a treaty between the two countries. They tried again in 2008.
Sources in the Philippine National Police (PNP) told the Inquirer Thursday the Hong Kong Department of Justice had written Justice Secretary Leila de Lima this month to inquire about the progress of the case against Villaroman.
The PNP leadership, however, is standing by Villaroman?s appointment vice Magtibay. PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz said Villaroman will only be officer in charge.
?That (case against Villaroman) is just an allegation...he will just be an OIC,? Cruz said.