Philippine military to form anti-kidnap force


AP

MANILA, Philippines Military chief Diomedio Villanueva said Monday he will form a special force to help police combat a rash of kidnappings.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the military, responsible mainly for national security and battling insurgents, to help police curb widespread crime — one of the daunting problems facing her new administration.

Villanueva said the military’s vast intelligence network and combat experience against communist and Muslim rebels, who also carried out kidnappings, would be useful to police.

He said the military was fine tuning details for the creation of the new anti-kidnapping force, whose members would undergo joint training with police officers handling cases of abduction.

National police chief Leandro Mendoza said combining police and military forces would considerably strengthen the government’s ability to deal with crimes, particularly kidnappings.

“Our combination is expected to do the job of weeding out the kidnappers like weeds,” said Mendoza. He also compared the kidnappers to termites and a tumor that should be eradicated.

The proposed military anti-crime group will be composed of special forces from the army, air force, navy and marines and would always operate under police control, Mendoza said in a statement. A joint secretariat would be established in the police headquarters in Manila to oversee the operations of the special military anti-crime unit.

A number of widely publicized recent killings of kidnapping and rape victims in metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces have become a public concern and been condemned by Arroyo.

National police chief Leandro Mendoza said an agreement would be signed to make it easier for the national police and the military to coordinate efforts against kidnapping and other crimes.

Arroyo, who took power Jan. 20, said efforts by her administration to foster peace talks with Muslim and communist rebels have considerably reduced fighting, allowing some soldiers to handle anti-crime assignments.