Philippine police say sharp drop in kidnappings


MANILA — Kidnappings in the Philippines have dropped to an “all-time low” with 27 cases reported in the year to June, police said Wednesday.

The figure was 45 percent lower than the 49 cases reported for the July 2005 to June 2006 period, national police chief Oscar Calderon said, attributing the drop to an intensified campaign against kidnap gangs.

Fourteen of the cases were reported in Manila and nearby provinces, while the rest were in the central and southern Philippines, he said. “The decrease of (kidnapping) cases is attributable to the untiring cooperation of the community and the significant accomplishment achieved by manhunt operations,” Calderon said.

A massive public information campaign had helped too, he said, adding 44 members of kidnap gangs were arrested during the period.

Kidnapping for ransom remains a major social problem in the Philippines, with criminals often preying on businessmen and foreigners in Manila and nearby provinces.

Islamic militants in the troubled southern Philippines are also known to seize foreign missionaries.

The latest to be taken was Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi, who was freed in July after spending over a month in the hands of al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants.