Kidnapping in Sulu continues

Kidnapping, in criminal law, offense involving taking and conveying away a person against his or her will, either by force, fraud, or intimidation. Originally the word applied only to the abduction of children, but early in English law it was employed to designate the same offense with regard to adults. Formerly, in common law, the offense of kidnapping was confined to the taking of persons from their own to another country, but such a restriction does not exist in the common law today. In the Philippines, the Philippine National Police’s mandate is to protect the life, liberty and property of the citizens. It is the PNP’s duty to rescue the kidnap victims and to run after the kidnappers. The military’s duty is to protect the territorial integrity and the political independence of the country. Since the kidnapping incidents are mere money making criminal acts and they do not constitute a threat to the territorial integrity or the political independence of the country, the military should have been out of it. However, the PNP and the military may help each other, of course. Following kidnapping in Sulu and the last kidnap victim like the three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Andreas Notter of Switzerland, Eugenio Vagni of Italy and Filipino Jean Lacaba, Secretary of Defense Gilbert Teodoro warned journalists and foreigners to coordinate with the military first before they roam Sulu. “We do not want to risk our soldiers’ lives” rescuing the kidnapped victims, the Secretary said. He noted that the three ICRC kidnap victims refused the military escort offered to them and their refusal resulted to their kidnapping. I expressed my dread about the implication that the Secretary’s statement said that “the military is no longer willing to die fighting the bandits.” Teodoro was only echoing what I believe his ground troops were saying to him, that they are no longer willing to risk their lives fighting the bandits to rescue the kidnapped. That the military is no longer willing to risk their lives fighting the bandits to rescue the kidnapped does not mean however that it has refused to do its duty of protecting the country and its people. It only means that our soldiers have been in Mindanao long enough to realize that politicians use the conflicts—including kidnapping—in Mindanao to further whatever plans for personal gain they have in mind at the expense of the soldiers’ lives, not to mention the Philippines’ reputation. Their experience thought them that the government is not sincere in putting an end to the sowing of conflicts in Mindanao, particularly in Sulu, as it runs after the bandits only when the issue is hot. But it does not do anything militarily or otherwise, when the issue has died down. Of course, the military knows. But soldiers are group of people who only obey orders. How can they not know with all their intelligence and with all the technical help America is giving in the form of unmanned drone and who knows what else? Battles are expensive, but the Philippines can afford a battle with Abu Sayaff. But the fact that kidnappings happen over and over again, and that said kidnappings are conducted by the same group of people who use different name each time, and the same people are known to the provincial officials, has only one explanation: that there exist collusion between the kidnappers and the local government, and between the local government and the national official/s where orders for military actions come from. For all its complexities, it takes only one thing to solve the kidnapping problem in Sulu. But for all their professions of love and loyalty for the Philippines, no one among the national leaders has the political will to put a period to this menace in Sulu.

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