MANILA, Philippines --- The alleged kidnapping of convicted road rage killer Rolito Go has given the Philippine National Police (PNP) the impetus to launch a renewed campaign against the remaining kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) groups operating in the country.
Director General Nicanor Bartolome, PNP chief, said he has instructed the police elite Anti-Kidnapping Group and other units to go after the reported 10 remaining KFR groups in Metro Manila and nearby regions.
"I ordered our police units to hit hard on known organized syndicated crime groups engaged in kidnapping and other forms of heinous crime activity," said Bartolome.
What further prompted the PNP leadership to launch a renewed drive against KFR groups was the reported warning by a neighboring government for its citizens not to travel in the country due to rising KFR cases, which was seemingly confirmed with the rescue of a two-year-old American citizen in Mabalacat town Pampanga and the arrest of two of the perpetrators.
Bartolome said the report citing the kidnapping of at least seven Asian nationals in suburban Manila is not confirmed.
"The usual process is to validate such report but we welcome any information so that we can work on that," said Bartolome.
An Asian embassy in the country was reported to have denied issuing warning to its citizens against traveling in the Philippines due to kidnapping incidents.
Supt. Rolando Miranda, spokesman of the Anti-Kidnapping Group, said there are at least seven KFR syndicates that they have been monitoring since 2002.
"We are not certain if all of them are still active but we believe that the number of KFR groups is still lower because of the conviction of seven kidnappers last year," said Miranda.
The official was referring to the Cavite-based Ledesma group whose leader and six members were collared in a raid in Bacoor town. They were later convicted for a KFR case.
A total of 11 KFR cases were reported last year and Miranda said there is a downtrend in the cases for this year.
"Most of the KFR cases happen in Luzon and Mindanao, but we don't include cases in Mindanao because it is considered as terrorism-related," said Miranda, adding that there was no reported KFR cases in Visayas even last year.
While there were 41 cases reported from January to June this year, only four were confirmed KFR case, the rest turned out to be a simple case of abduction, missing person and those who were arrested in legitimate law enforcement operations.
KFR activities used to be a major security headache for the government, prompting the past administration to create a special unit which proved to be effective as it busted almost all KFR syndicates operating then.