House Representative Sherwin Gatchalian of the National People’s Coalition has warned law enforcement agencies of a “new wave of kidnappings” in Mindanao.
Gatchalian made the announcement in Valenzuela City and spoke openly about added security measures and the recent abduction of foreigners there.
Gatchalian particularly expressed alarm over the kidnapping Wednesday of Rolando del Torchio, a former priest, who was snatched from his pizza restaurant in Dipolog City.
Del Torchio’s abduction followed the September 21 kidnapping of two Canadians, one Norwegian and a Filipino from a resort in the usually security conscious Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte.
“There is now a trend in Mindanao where foreigners are being targeted for kidnapping. I hope these kidnap cases have nothing to do with the 2016 elections or with the forthcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Summit next month,” said Gatchalian, who is Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
He asked, “Whatever happened to the intensified police and military operations launched by the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines following the Samal kidnapping incident?”
The former Valenzuela City mayor urged Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento, Gatchalian’s former colleague in the Lower House, to intensify security operations in Southern Philippines, particularly in areas frequented by foreign visitors.
Earlier, he asked Sarmiento to order the PNP to intensify security operations in Mindanao following the kidnapping last September of Kjartan Sekkingstad, a Norwegian and operations manager of the resort; Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall and his Filipina girlfriend identified only as Tess.
“The kidnappings of two Canadians, one Norwegian and the latest of which involves an Italian businessman will have an adverse effect not only on the country’s tourism but more so on the economy as potential foreign investors might decide not to push through with their business plans here due to security concerns,” said Gatchalian.
The Canadian government has already advised Canadian nationals against travelling to the Davao region and nearby areas, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao due to what it said was a “serious threat of terrorist attacks and kidnapping.”
Kidnapping of foreigners is not new in Mindanao and many of the past incidents were carried out by the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.
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