The rising number of abductions in Cotabato City over the past months has prompted Senator Chiz Escudero to call for the relief of the local police and armed forces chiefs in the area, saying they failed in their duties to secure and protect the people from criminals like the kidnap-for-ransom gangs.
Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on national defense and security, condemned the latest abduction in the city involving Chinese businessman Eulogio Lim Yu last Saturday.
This came a month after a nine-year-old girl was kidnapped but rescued in Pigcawayan, a town adjacent to the city. The girl’s father, trader Allan Tamayo, was killed when he tried to stop the abductors.
Before this, Chinese businesswoman Conchita Tan was also snatched in Cotabato City, and her driver and bodyguard were gunned down for resisting the kidnappers. In August of the same year, trader Nelson Tay was abducted by armed men.
According to the senator, this abduction spree was very alarming because kidnappers continue with their criminal activities under the noses of authorities. Since last year, 10 kidnapping incidents, mostly involving Chinese traders, have been recorded in Mindanao, particularly in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“This is already a shame to our security forces. Kidnapping has become the norm more than it should just be an exemption. There is no more excuse for kidnap-for-ransom incidents happening once or thrice in successive months,” Escudero said. “Those manning the security fort should be held responsible for the proliferation of lawlessness in the city.”
The notorious Pentagon Gang has been tagged as the major perpetrator of the kidnappings. In some cases, terror group Abu Sayyaf has been identified as responsible for the crime.
Escudero said there ought to be a serious evaluation not only of the existing security measures of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), but also of their officers and personnel following persistent talk that some of them were involved in kidnapping activities.
“The PNP and AFP leadership in ARMM should shape up or they better ship out and let those who are capable do the job. These security organizations should purge their ranks starting from top to bottom. The system and those implementing the system may no longer be fit to carry out what is really necessary in curbing lawlessness and promoting peace and order,” Escudero said.