Task force created vs kidnapping in Central Mindanao
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Malacañang has formed a task force against unabated kidnapping and drug-related crimes involving prominent individuals here and other parts of Central Mindanao, a military official said Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. Arthur Tabaquero, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the body was tasked with unmasking and prosecuting the so-called “untouchables” involved in kidnappings and the drug trade.
At least a dozen kidnapping incidents have been recorded here during the past three years.
“Under the overall supervision of defense and justice departments and operational control of Mindanao-based security forces, the task force would be pro-active to protect civilians and the business community from kidnap, drug, and gun-for-hire syndicates,” Tabaquero said.
Yu Beng Chua, president of the Cotabato Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said businessmen have been wondering why most of the arrested suspects in kidnapping cases have been freed.
“Something is wrong with our judicial system; we cannot prosecute criminals,” he said during a meeting here with Tabaquero and other officials involved in the task force.
Tabaquero said it was for the same reason he believed that all judicial proceedings involving kidnapping and high-profile cases should be held outside the city. He said this would ensure that witnesses would not be threatened or intimidated.
Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said he had reservations about the creation of the task force because similar bodies in the past did not deliver any results.
“Would the new task force be able to solve the problem?” he asked. “Kidnapping is still rampant, left and right. The city has become a killing field, and we still have the proliferation of illegal drugs resulting in the commission of petty crimes.”
City administrator Cynthia Sayadi agreed and said that the city’s security problem was serious.
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