THE ongoing Philippine National Police’s massive drive against illegal drug trafficking and abuse has spawned several incidents of ‘kidnap-me’ cases masterminded by some enterprising people to earn fast bucks from their families and other victims, the director of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group said yesterday.
Senior Superintendent Manolo N. Ozaeta said he had monitored some cases in which some victims allegedly called their parents to deposit money thru banks or remittance centers claiming they have been kidnapped and their captors who who accuse them of being drug personalities were demanding huge cash from them.
“Money deposited in those cases was really not that big. Usually, they are tens of thousands only and we discovered that they were not real kidnapping cases,” Ozaeta, a lawyer from PNP Academy Class 1984 told the Journal Group.
There were also complaints regarding the presence of unscrupulous law enforcers sending their ‘representatives’ to tell a prospective victim that he is already the subject of police surveillance due to involvement in illicit drug activities though he’s really not.
Fearful of an impending arrest and its repercussions to his family and business, the victim would later agree to the monetary demand of the rogue law enforcer who would even tell him that the money is aimed to ‘grease’ top officials in charge of the government’s drug list.
Ozaeta said they have investigated a number of ‘hoax’ kidnappings this year to the consternation of investigators. He said ‘hoax’ kidnappings are wasting government resources, thus the need for them to inform the public that not all kidnapping incidents reported to the PNP are authentic.
“However, we assure the public that we at the PNP-AKG still acted immediately to resolve the cases even though they turned out to be fake,” Ozaeta said.
The PNP-AKG Group Advisory Council headed by Professor Liana M. Barro has approved a resolution recommending to Congress the inclusion of ‘hoax’ kidnap-for-ransom cases as a major criminal offense which will send the guilty party to jail for quite some time.
The PNP-AKG advisers said the resources and strength of the Unit are sometimes wasted when they respond to fake kidnapping cases. Ozaeta said ‘hoax’ kidnappings disrupt their operations on legitimate kidnapping-for-ransom incidents.
One of the ‘hoax’ kidnapping-for-ransom cases investigated by the PNP-AKG so far this year was that of 25-year old storekeeper Remalyn Claveria of Barangay San Jose in San Nicolas, Pangasinan. Last January 15, a brother of Claveria named Rogelio, 28, surfaced at the PNP-AKG headquarters and reported the alleged abduction of his sister.
Rogelio said that on January 14, he received a text message from his sister telling him that she was abducted by three unidentified men in his boarding house. The woman said her abductors were demanding P30,000 for her safe release. Shortly after she surfaced and was questioned by PNP-AKG investigators, Remalyn broke down and confessed she made up the kidnapping tale to ‘extort’ P30,000 from her family, the money she needed to pay the same amount she stole from her employer. The case was amicably settled.
There was also the case of a 15-year old girl from San Miguel, Manila who was reportedly kidnapped last January 24 while buying pre-paid load in Quiapo. Two weeks after she disappeared, the victim’s family received a text message, demanding P30,000 for the teenager’s safe freedom.
An investigation conducted by the AKG Task Force Luzon showed that the girl was actually the one who filled-up the form at ML Kuwarta Padala recipient form to claim the P500 sent by her father. It also turned out that the teenager eloped with her boyfriend who was the same man who was with him when she claimed the money.
There was also the case of British national Andrew Jackson who was reported to have orchestrated a ‘kidnapping-for-ransom’ tale in San Fernando City in Pampanga last February 16 and the case of Florida Jane Celso, 21, a resident of Naga City who hatched a kidnapping tale together with her live-in partner Noli Banta, 26. During an entrapment operation, Celso was caught trying to claim the ‘ransom’ money sent by her relatives to a Smart Padala branch in Naga City.
The local police filed charges for unjust vexation and illegal possession and use of false treasury or bank notes and other instruments of justice.
The PNP-AKG also investigated another ‘hoax’ kidnapping in Davao City last March 3 involving one Wenward Pellano. The alleged ‘victim’ returned home early morning of March 3 without paying any ransom. During questioning by the police, the ‘victim’ confessed to have concocted the KFR story in order to get an advance P30,000 ransom payment. The investigation led in the arrest of three other suspects including the mother of Wenward.
From 2013 to 2015, the PNP-AKG discovered at least 34 ‘hoax’ kidnappings, the kidnap tale concocted even by some Korean nationals in order to get money from their families, employers or business associates.
Last year, the PNP-AKG also found out the alleged kidnapping case they investigated was orchestrated by a 26-year-old housewife identified as Carolyn C. Wingco to gain the attention of her family and her husband who is presently working in Dubai.