COPS' ROLE IN KIDNAP CASES ALARMING PING

Manila, Feb. 3, 2003 -- Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said there was an upsurge in kidnap cases last month with at least eight abductions involving 14 victims.

Reports reaching Lacson's office showed that nine of the 23 apprehended suspects in six cases were five policemen, two agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and two operatives of the Laguna Intelligence and Investigation Group.

"The kidnappings are alarming enough. What more if those involved are the very people we expect to protect us from criminals?" Lacson said.

The first victim reported this year was Apple Deen Tabonada, 14, a high school freshman, who was abducted by the Pentagon group in Cagayan de Oro.

Three Muslim traders were abducted at a fastfood outlet in San Pedro, Laguna by policemen.

Last Jan. 16, Jesus Changcoco, a businessman, was found dead in an abandoned Starex van in Global City in Taguig. He was reportedly abducted while driving along the national highway in Lipa City, Batangas.

Last Jan. 18, Wilfredo Avila, an aide of Manila councilor Richard Ibay, and two others were abducted in front of Ibay's house in San Andres Bukid. They have yet to be released.

On the same day, PDEA agents abducted a businessman in Barangay Sto. Cristo, Pulilan, Bulacan and tried to extort money from him, reports said.

Three kidnap incidents were reported last Jan. 26.

Reports said Hazumitzu Hashiba, a Japanese, was abducted in Surigao del Sur; Alex Chua, a Filipino-Chinese, was snatched by four men in St. Michael subdivision in Meycauayan, Bulacan; and Arlu Dia, Roger Alvar and Marivic Balibagon were kidnapped by unidentified armed men in Lanao del Sur. (Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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