The Philippine National Police has assured other countries, particularly the United States, that the government was in full control of the security situation in the country after the US State Department named the Philippines as one of the countries with high kidnapping risk.
PHP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said it was the obligation of any state to warn its citizens of all the kinds of dangers in any part of the world, especially if the security assessment was valid.
“We cannot blame them. They are just doing their job of protecting their citizens. We will certainly do the same thing,” Albayalde said.
He said that while it was true that there were kidnapping incidents, especially in Mindanao, mostly perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group and its affiliate local syndicates, “there are only certain portions or parts in Mindanao that are quite critical because of the presence of some threat groups.”
Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año said kidnapping cases in the country had been steadily in a downward trend in recent years because of the government’s relentless and proactive stance in its peace and order program.
“A list is just a list. What we have are factual data pointing to the decreasing number of kidnapping cases in the Philippines. That’s what we are banking on,” Año said.
“We do not know yet how they came up with the list, but with the strong stance of President Duterte against criminality in general, we see no basis for including us in this list. We will request from the US Embassy what were the parameters used since even Malaysia and Russia were included,” he added.
According to the PNP, there were only 68 cases of kidnapping in the country in 2018, most of which were in Mindanao, 11 cases lower than in 2017.
To date, there have been 10 cases of kidnapping in the first quarter of 2019, police said.
“There is a decreasing trend of kidnapping cases due to the relentless anti-terrorism and anti-criminality campaign of the government,” said PNP spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac. “The peace and order in the country is under our control because of the intensified security measures we are implementing.”
Mindanao, for example, is currently under martial law, while all police forces across the country are on alert for the midterm elections next month.
The US State Department has included the Philippines in the list of 35 countries, which include Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Russia, with high kidnapping risk, advising Americans to take extra caution when traveling in these countries.