THE case of four of the six Chinese nationals who were found dead in separate places in Calabarzon days after being abducted inside the posh Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City last October 30 is baffling the Philippine National Police-Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG).
PNP-AKG director Brigadier General Cosme A. Abrenica described the case as ‘very challenging’ since the kidnappers did not communicate with the families of the victims. Those killed were believed to have been suffocated to death.
The PNP-AKG director said the victims had no external injuries or any indication that the four were either shot or stabbed to death. “From our investigation, they were likely killed by covering their faces or they were choked,” he said.
The victims, three males and three females along with their three Filipino companions, were snatched inside Ayala-Alabang subdivision at around 4:00 a.m. last October 30 by heavily-armed men, some of them believed to be Chinese nationals too.
The kidnappers ordered the victims to drop to the ground before hogtying and blindfolding them. They later dragged the victims into their getaway vehicles described by witnesses as Toyota vans.
The three Filipinos–a couple who served as a stay-in house helper and driver and their son—were freed unharmed by the gunmen in Calauan, Laguna around 3:30 p.m. of the same day after being instructed not to report to the authorities.
Last All Saints’ Day, the bloated bodies of two Chinese-looking women were found along the Marilaque Highway in Sitio Maysawa in Barangay Cuyambay in Tanay, Rizal. Five days later, the bodies of two male Chinese, who were described as siblings, were recovered in Sitio Tigkay in Bgy. Magsaysay in Infanta, Quezon.
The four were identified by the three freed Filipinos as among the six Chinese nationals abducted through the clothes they were wearing at the time of the kidnapping.
Last November 22, a DNA examination showed that the DNA samples taken from the two murdered victims in Infanta, Quezon matched with the sample of their mother.
The DNA results on the two female victims are yet to be released.
Last November 25, the PNP-AKG conducted a comprehensive inventory of the personal belongings and other items recovered from the victims and turned them over to their families.
The PNP-AKG is also still searching for the two other missing victims—a woman and her 11-year old son– as of press time, said its spokesperson, Major Roman Salazar.
“Of course, we could not dictate anything to the abductors, but I am appealing to them not to harm the remaining victims, especially the innocent child. We are hoping that we will be able to recover the mother and son alive,” Abrenica said.
The official admitted it was an ‘unusual case’ compared to previous incidents they have investigated since the kidnappers have not demanded ransom for the release of their hostages.
“This is a puzzle for us on what the kidnappers really want. They have not called the family. There was no demand for ransom,” the PNP-AKG director said.
Abrenica said they are also looking into many angles behind the October 30 kidnapping incident. The business angle is among those.
Journal Group sources said that part of the ongoing investigation is the possibility that it could be a POGO-related or casino-related kidnapping case.
Many past POGO-related kidnapping-for-ransom cases involved Chinese nationals who have been seized by their armed compatriots and tortured in front of cameras to force the victims’ relatives abroad to pay huge ransom money demanded by the kidnappers thru WeChat.
A number of Chinese nationals have been arrested by PNP-AKG and other PNP units and law enforcement agencies for involvement in the same modus operandi.
PNP chief General Benjamin C. Acorda Jr. earlier said they are undertaking more proactive measures to stop these kidnap-for-ransom cases as he cited many accomplishments by the PNP-AKG which went unreported due to request of the victims’ families.
Abrenica also belied reports of ‘underreporting’ of kidnapping cases, saying they have only recorded 20 incidents since January this year.
The official said that out of the 20 cases, 15 have been solved while the rest are still under investigation. Most of the victims are Chinese nationals, he explained while some are from South Korea and Taiwan, he added.
“We are paying close attention to these cases and we are ensuring a smooth flow of investigation. It could be that there are some cases that are really not reported to us so we are not able to address it. This is why we encourage those who have information to coordinate with us,” Abrenica said.
The two officials issued the statement when asked by the Journal Group to comment on a newspaper column by former Press Secretary Rigoberto Tiglao entitled’ Chinese businessmen spooked by kidnappings.’
The former Macapagal-Arroyo Cabinet official said the Filipino-Chinese community in the country is alarmed over a “rising fear of kidnappings of Chinese citizens in the metropolis’ and cited sources from the Filipino-Chinese community who claimed that kidnapping cases are “grossly underreported as relatives of Chinese kidnapped are no longer reporting such incidents, whether the victims were killed or were released” on fears of reprisal.
In the latter parts of 2022, the PNP also dismissed reports of rising crimes as it defended the organization from claims by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. regarding a new spate of kidnapping incidents in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.
The PNP last year said that it investigated 27 kidnapping cases compared to the 38 it probed in 2021. The victims in last year’s kidnappings were Chinese, Vietnamese and Taiwanese nationals whose abductions were due to their connection with Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).