Defense chief: New body meant to end kidnappings in Mindanao
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—The new anti-kidnapping task force that Malacañang formed is different from previous ones as it is not intended simply to catch kidnappers but to prevent kidnappings in Central Mindanao, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said here Tuesday.
“The goal is not just to capture (suspects) but to preempt their future plans of sowing terror and fear,” he said.
The new task force, Gazmin said, will not only involve the police and the military but also “special prosecutors.”
The media and the community will also be involved in some ways, he added.
“There’s a need for a collective effort to restore peace and economic stability by coming up with a tangible response to cut down lawlessness,” Gazmin said.
He said the new task force aims to uncover the so-called “untouchables” allegedly behind a string of kidnappings here.
According to police records, four persons were abducted in this city alone during the past nine months.
Businessman Eulogio Yu, abducted in January near the seat of the regional government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, remains missing and his fate is still unclear.
“We will enforce the law and no so-called untouchables will be spared from its relentless operation,” Gazmin said during the launching of new task force here.
Chief Superintendent Benjardi Mantele, Central Mindanao police chief and head of the task force, said the group’s activation was “a timely and necessary move” to neutralize kidnap-for-ransom groups.
“I guess the Aquino government means business. Our request has been answered and the presence of Secretary Gazmin and other top brass in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) is enough assurance of that commitment to restore peace and tranquility in this part of the country,” said Yu Beng Chua, president of the Cotabato Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
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