Missing Pasay youngsters ‘high priority,’ says police chief
MANILA, Philippines — The reported disappearances of at least nine youngsters in Pasay City were considered “high priority,” Col. Bernard Yang, Pasay police chief, said on Wednesday, even as another online video by a 10-year-old boy claiming he had been kidnapped was deemed as fake.
“They are considered high-priority missing persons,” Yang told the Inquirer.
This meant, he added, that the circumstances of their disappearance “suggest” that they “maybe at imminent danger, death, or likely at risk of injury.”
Yang, however, said that the disappearances were not considered kidnapping since there was no demand for ransom.
He also said that a review of the CCTV footages showed that there was no resistance when the youngsters boarded the vehicles.
The Philippine National Police had dismissed as fake news a report circulating on social media that several youths in Metro Manila had been abducted by men in a white van.
A Pasay police task force was looking into the disappearance of eight men and one woman, aged 15 to 23, in separate incidents between Nov. 20 and 22.
It was also investigating the case of a 19-year-old boy who went missing on Nov. 9.
Investigators have gathered two videos of the alleged abductions: one on Villaruel Street by a white van on Nov. 22, and another by a red sedan near the corner of Edsa and Taft Avenue on Nov. 20.
Lt. Allan Valdez, city chief investigator, however, said that the license plate of the white van seemed to have been stolen from a sedan in Quezon City in April 2015.
He said the owner of the sedan, whose license plate was stolen four years ago, had come out to clear his name in the wake of the reported abductions.
Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, on Tuesday said three of the missing teens were allegedly involved in the drug trade.
He said the three were “downlines”of a bigger group peddling drugs.
“Our theory is that these teens failed to remit money for their drug business to their higher ups, because of the series of antidrug operations by police. Maybe they scampered and hid for fear of their lives,”he said.
Meanwhile, the video of 10-year-old Jan (not his real name) who claimed he had been kidnapped has been circulating on social media.
Jan told his rescuers he was seized by six masked men and forced inside a white van near his home in Barangay Sapang Palay in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, in late September.
When pressed for more details about his abduction, he would then lift his shirt to reveal stitches around his torso.
Netizens who picked up the video would tell their own version of the boy’s story, saying the stitches were marks that his internal organs — particularly one of his kidneys — were harvested by a syndicate.
But the village personnel who rescued Jan while he was loitering along Aseana Avenue in ParaÃ±aque at 2 a.m. of Sept. 30 called the video “fake news.”
Yrraj Cabanza of the Women’s and Children’s Desk of Barangay Tambo in Parañque, which turned Jan over to his parents after his rescue, said the boy told his parents he was kidnapped by men, but it turned out he left their house on a whim.
“His parents admitted Jan would leave their house for a long time, hitching rides on jeepneys and buses to beg for alms, so he can have money to pay for computer games,” she told the Inquirer.
What about his stitches?
“Those were from his fresh operations… His parents said he had undergone surgery for appendix removal, and the huge slash on his belly was done to manually remove tapeworms in his intestines,” Cabanza explained.
Cabanza asked netizens to stop spreading false information on what happened to Jan.
“It’s disappointing that the photos and videos of the kid were being used to cause fear to people. Please just stop,” she said.
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