Arroyo orders crackdown on kidnapping crimes
MANILA, Oct. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Thursday ordered her anti-kidnapping force chief to crackdown kidnapping syndicates and politicians implicated in the crime.
Anti-kidnapping force chief Angelo Reyes has received "orders to go after kidnap syndicates with the full force of his new office," a presidential palace statement said.
"I also want him to check cabals involving kidnappers and politicians involved in this criminal activity," Arroyo was quotedas saying.
Reyes on Thursday said there were about 83 kidnapping cases from January to October 2003 compared with 63 cases in the same period last year, with more than half of them taking place in Manila.
As a rule, he said kidnappings rise during election years. The Philippines is to hold a presidential election in May 2004.
"Statistically, we know that in election years, about one year before elections, there is an increase in the incidence of kidnapping," local media quoted Reyes as saying.
"We can't say it is political. We might say that (during) elections, a lot of money is circulating," he added.
While there have been a number of high-profile cases implicating the kidnap gang Abu Sayyaf, there could be other incidents that remain unreported to the police, with the victims' families apparently paying ransom in fear of retribution, Reyes said.
Government has identified at least five "principal groups" behind the kidnappings, Reyes added, hinting that some politicianscould be engaged in kidnap-for-ransom activities.
Arroyo has earlier conceded that the rash of abductions, mostlytargeting foreign and local businessmen, has scared away potentialinvestors. Enditem
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