Spate of kidnapping cases reported
MANILA, Philippines–Earlier this month, Sen. Francis Escudero called on the Philippine National Police to check reports that kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) cases in Metro Manila were on the rise.
The senator said he had received reports from various parties that a recent spate of KFR activities had again been targeting members of the Chinese-Filipino community, with the victims’ families being asked to pay a relatively “small” ransom, from P500,000 to P5 million.
Escudero said these families had opted to pay the kidnappers, without reporting their cases to the PNP. But “just because it’s not reported doesn’t mean nothing wrong is happening,” he said.
Escudero cited the case of Benito Chao, a 69-year-old businessman who was found dead with a gunshot wound in the head a few hours after being taken in Caloocan City.
Last month, a 17-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped and raped in Mandaluyong City by the still unidentified driver of a silver Toyota Camry.
Police began its probe of the incident after the footage taken by a closed-circuit television camera was reported in the news. It showed a naked girl falling out of the front seat of the Camry as it was traveling along Sgt. Bumatay Street toward Maria Clara Street in Barangay (village) Plainview.
On Aug. 29, four people were arrested on alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a Korean woman who was abducted in Caloocan City and whose remains were dumped in a septic tank in San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan province.
The Bulacan police director, Senior Supt. Ferdinand Divina, said his men arrested Alex Buenaobra, Jeric Santos, Aina Tapia and Sharmaigne Monreal during a raid on a shop in Barangay Casio, where stolen taxicabs were recovered.
In June, PO2 Frederick Tolentino of the National Capital Region Police Office was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation after he confessed to taking part in the kidnapping of Korean businessman Hyun Koo-yeo in April.
This was after one of the cars used in the kidnapping turned out to be registered in the policeman’s name. During Tolentino’s arrest, the vehicle—a silver Toyota Altis with plate number XHS 721—was found parked outside his house.
Hyun said five men claiming to be NBI officers stopped him on Roxas Boulevard near Coastal Road in Pasay City at around 9 p.m. on April 7 and held him and his two companions at gunpoint.
They boarded Hyun’s car and took control of it, and later demanded P20 million from the Korean. Hyun, however, gave only P4 million to his captors.
The NBI said the kidnappers released Hyun and his companions with a threat that they would kill his family if he failed to pay the balance and if he reported them to authorities.
Also in June, charges of kidnapping and extortion were recommended by the city prosecutor’s office against PO1 Hadji A. Zaulda, SPO2 Joel Macabasag, SPO3 Rodel A. Tuaño and SPO2 Ronald Rioja based on the complaint filed by Vincent Ravara and Janifer Yuag.
According to Ravara, he and a friend were standing at the gate of their house on A. Bonifacio Street in Barangay Kabayanan in San Juan City on Dec. 30 last year when they were approached by four policemen dressed in civilian clothes.
The policemen also ransacked their house and took the couple’s valuables amounting to P46,300. The policemen took Ravara with them and later contacted Yuag demanding P200,000 in exchange for his release.
Yuag managed to come up with only P40,000 that she gave to the policemen during a meet-up on R. Pascual Street. Ravara was later released at Aquinas Church.
In December last year, a businessman, who asked not to be named for security reasons, insisted that his daughter was seized by four men on the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Loyola Heights in Nov. 21. He said his daughter was driven around the eastern part of Metro Manila in her own car, and endured a seven-hour ordeal.
The student was later released unharmed with no ransom paid.
However, according to the Quezon City Police District director, Chief Supt. Richard Albano, there was “no kidnapping at all” and that the Nov. 21 incident was just made up based on assessment.
Albano said there had been other reported kidnapping cases that eventually turned out to be false after a thorough investigation.
“These cases also involved college students claiming to have been kidnapped, only to break down later and admit making it all up. Most of them merely wanted attention or their parents’ money. Some wanted to use the incident to explain why their families could not locate them for a long time.”
Meanwhile, Chief Insp. Arthur Valdez of the Anti-Kidnapping Group said the terror group Abu Sayyaf was now abducting people regardless of their capacity to pay ransom. “It’s based more on vulnerability now,” he said.
The latest victim of kidnapping is Lailani Bernabe, a midwife at a district hospital in Luuk town, Sulu province. She was reportedly on her way to work on Aug. 29 when she was seized by members of the Abu Sayyaf in Barangay Libug Kabaw, Panglima Estino town.
Valdez said Bernabe was believed to have been taken to Barangay Bagsak in Talipao town.
On Aug. 16, Ronald Pelegrin and his cousin, Dante Avilla, a mechanic, were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf. Avilla resisted the armed men and was killed in the process. Pelegrin was held for 12 days before he was released by his kidnappers right inside the provincial capitol in Patikul town.
The Abu Sayyaf had demanded a P15-million ransom for his release, but it was not certain if ransom was paid.
Earlier, Agustino Sicangco and his wife, Nurhati, of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, who were kidnapped in July 17, were freed by their abductors in Patikul.
A source, who asked not to be identified for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the victims’ family paid P200,000 in ransom.
The Sicangcos, along with coworkers Robert Saputalo and Lerma Jurah, were abducted by armed men led by a certain Enrile Jumayde in Talipao on July 17. Jurah was freed in the village of Danag in Patikul on July 18.
Saputalo remains in the hands of his abductors.
Since 2013, over a dozen regular or contractual employees of the provincial government have been taken captive.
Authorities earlier said German nationals Dr. Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrite Dielen had been taken to Sulu after they were kidnapped, also by the Abu Sayyaf, off Palawan province in April.
The Abu Sayyaf, a ragtag band of self-styled Islamists, which gained notoriety due to its high-profile kidnappings, continues to hold on to other foreign captives, including European bird watchers Dutchman Ewold Horn and Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra. They are also keeping captive Japanese treasure hunter Mamaito Katayama.–Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer archives
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