World / Disputes

Kidnapping warning sirens whistled for Chinese community in Philippines

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-09-15 16:58

MANILA - The recent upsurge of kidnappings and other crimes in the Philippines has alarmed the large Filipino- Chinese community in the country. It has also prompted the Chinese government to warn its citizens on Friday not to travel to the Philippines in the meantime.

The advisory from the Chinese Foreign Ministry was issued after a Chinese teenager, identified as 18-year-old Li Peizhi, was seized by unidentified gunmen in the town of Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay province in strife-torn Southern Philippines.

"Given the worsened security situation in the Philippines, the consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges Chinese citizens not to travel to the Philippines for the time being," the ministry said in a statement.

The warning came after three men were arrested last week in Manila over an alleged plot to bomb the Chinese embassy, the international airport and the business premises of ethnic Chinese tycoons. 

In reacting to the Beijing travel advisory, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reassured the Chinese Embassy of "appropriate and necessary protection to guard against threats and prevent any violent incidents."

The DFA said police authorities are thoroughly investigating the foiled bombing attempt at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sept 1. The three suspects and the alleged mastermind have already been apprehended by the police.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte also assured the Chinese authorities that the Philippine government remains committed to protect "their citizens who are visiting the country just like any visitor who comes to our shores."

"Of course, we want to assure our foreign friends that as our visitors, it is in our culture and tradition that we will do our best to make your stay here worthwhile," Valte said.

However, shortly after the assurance given by the Philippine government, another Chinese national was seriously wounded on Saturday morning by gunmen in Meycauayan City, Bulacan Province, which prompted the Chinese Embassy to issued another travel warning.

The kidnappers of the Chinese teenager could be Abu Sayyaf militants who had kidnapped Australian Richard Rodwell in 2011, according to Kabasalan Mayor George Cainglet.

The Abu Sayyaf, which is affiliated with the Al-Qaida, has been routinely kidnapping foreigners for ransom in the southern islands of Mindanao. For the kidnapped Chinese teenager, there has been no ransom demand yet.

The military said they are still pursuing the kidnappers of the Chinese teenager.

In the Philippine Senate, Senator J.V. Ejercito has filed Resolution 833 calling for an inquiry into the peace and order situation in the country.

Ejercito noted that the incidence of crimes in the country has been going up. In 2013, 1.2 million cases were recorded and this year, from January to June, 603,086 cases have been recorded.

But President Benigno Aquino III on Friday defended the Philippine National Police from criticism that it has failed to curb criminality in the country.

He lamented that the media is prone to sensationalize crime reporting but does not give prominence to stories about police efforts to solve crimes.

Aquino claimed that in Metro Manila, the 31 cases of homicide a week have dropped to 20.

However, Teresita Ang-See, a Filipino-Chinese businesswoman and founding chairman of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO), has confirmed that there is an upsurge of kidnappings in the country.

MRPO data show that from January to August this year, there were 33 incidents of kidnapping across the country involving 50 victims. Of the 50 victims, 17 of them Filipino-Chinese, locally called Tsinoys. Of the 50 victims, 29 were freed, one escaped, three were rescued, and one was killed.

MRPO said that nine incidents were recorded in Metro Manila, 10 in the rest of Luzon, and 14 incidents in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Ang-See said the Chinese-Filipino community in the Philippines has been bothered by the increase of kidnapping cases as she called on the police to intensify its anti-kidnapping operations.

The MRPO has urged the police to focus on the manhunt operations and buildup of cases against the suspects.

MRPO data also show that the year 2009 saw the highest number of kidnapping incidents which reached 113, with 144 victims. The number decreased in 2010 to 99 incidents with 128 victims, and dropped in 2011 to 58 incidents with 78 victims.

The downward trend continued in 2012 with 41 incidents and 64 victims. However, it began it rise anew in 2013 with 46 incidents and 59 victims.

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