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Arroyo government strives for "kidnap-free" Christmas
( 2003-12-04 17:25) (Xinhua)

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday said the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (NAKTAF) is now ready to institute measures to curb the rampant kidnappings in the national capital region and nearby provinces.

"The NAKTAF has formulated, following my directive, certain security measures to curb kidnapping. We need to implement these measures immediately in order to achieve my desire of having a kidnap-free Christmas season," the presidential palace quoted Arroyo as saying in a statement.

In a meeting attended by city mayors and governors, representatives of the business sector and the Filipino-Chinese community and the Philippine National Police (PNP), the president stressed the need for the government to demonstrate its resolve and capability to address rampant kidnapping in the capital region.

Arroyo said she has ordered an in-depth investigation on the reported collusion of some police and military personnel with kidnap-for-ransom groups, adding that the NAKTAF will undertake cleansing and isolation measures so that only police officers with unquestionable integrity are assigned to anti-kidnapping groups.

"We have done this process of internal house cleaning quietly in our anti-drug campaign and have reaped results," she said, adding, "If anyone has suspicions or proofs of any cops being involved in the kidnap trade, they should be reported directly."

Arroyo also said random checkpoints and mobile operations are now being conducted round the clock. "All law-abiding citizens must gather around this effort and send a strong, consolidated message for criminals to stand down," she added.

"We need the cooperation of the Filipino-Chinese community to help us identify the scalawags was well as the officers who have been a credit to the uniform," she said.

In the past two weeks, several Chinese-Filipinos had been victims of high-profile abductions. Kidnappers killed Coca-Cola executive Betti Sy, whose remains were found wrapped in a garbage bag on Nov. 17. On Nov. 21, 10-year-old Jelina Dy was kidnapped, and released Thursday amid reports of ransom having been paid.

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