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EDITORIAL - Ransom before kidnapping

() - January 15, 2004 - 12:00am
This is not really a new modus operandi. During the Estrada administration, there were already reports that kidnappers had found an easier way to make money. They would stake out a family, studying the members’ routines, taking photographs of the parents on their way to work and children on their way to school. The crooks would take photographs of the house and family vehicles. Then the photographs would be sent to the parents and a call would be made. We’re watching you, the kidnappers would say, and the potential targets would have the proof in their hands.

Sometimes the kidnappers did not even bother to send photographs. The caller simply told the parents about the family’s routine and details that could have been known only to people who have placed the family under surveillance. The victims would then pay up before any family member could be kidnapped. One problem here: the kidnappers could keep coming back for more money, like ordinary blackmailers.

Such operations, while relatively easier than keeping a victim captive, also pose certain risks for kidnappers. Without a hostage, the fear factor is reduced, and targeted victims are more likely to seek help from authorities. The only thing that could stop targeted victims from reporting a case is the suspicion that law enforcers themselves could be involved in the shakedown.

In recent weeks the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force has managed to reduce such suspicions, mainly by doing its job. The Chinese Filipino community, whose members are the favorite targets of kidnappers, has given NAKTAF and its head Angelo Reyes guarded praise for recent operations against kidnappers, but wants the campaign sustained.

The success of this campaign, however, will also depend on the public’s continued cooperation. Now that there is an anti-kidnapping unit that is doing its job, relatives of kidnap victims must be encouraged to report the cases and seek help from authorities. NAKTAF personnel, for their part, must maintain the quality of their recent work if they want to eradicate the kidnapping menace for good.

ANGELO REYES CHINESE FILIPINO DURING THE ESTRADA FAMILY KIDNAPPERS KIDNAPPING NATIONAL ANTI-KIDNAPPING TASK FORCE PARENTS PHOTOGRAPHS VICTIMS
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