Kidnappings for ransom in Mindanao, especially of foreign tourists, remains a big problem.
The latest kidnappings on September 21 of two Canadians and one Norwegian and one Filipina at the Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort on Samal Island off Davao has dealt a major blow to Philippine tourism.
Kidnappers — whether they are the notorious Abu Sayyaf or other groups — should be stopped effectively.
Their crimes adversely affect not only family members of kidnap victims, but thousands of Filipinos who depend on tourism, as well as the country’s economy in terms of lost tourism revenue.
An entirely different and bolder approach should be formulated and adopted against kidnap for ransom gangs, especially those that prey on foreign tourists. These criminal gangs operate outside the law with utmost impunity so a two-pronged strategy ought to be adopted — legal and extralegal.
FRESH LEGAL APPROACH:
1] Kidnap-for-ransom of Pinoys should carry minimum jail sentence of 10 years and minimum of 15 years for those involving foreigners. No parole should be given except on very grave mitigating grounds. Congress should amend existing laws and impose much heavier jail terms to try and deter them.
2] More Scout Ranger battalions should be formed that will specialize in guerrilla operations against kidnap for ransom gangs and terrorists in Mindanao.
3] Ensure new Scout Ranger battalions will have significant Mindanao Muslim members familiar with Mindanao terrain and different Muslim dialects.
4] Captured kidnap-for-ransom bandits and terrorists should be jailed inside military camps in Mindanao to reduce jail breakouts instigated by their comrades.
5] If leaders of kidnap gangs are positively identified, government forces should make loved ones of gang leaders to exert moral pressure on the latter to release hostages.
6] Set up an effective intelligence-gathering and reward system, involving Muslim communities, for easier identification and apprehension of kidnap for ransom gang members.
Operating outside the law is often unthinkable and deplorable to human rights activists, church and other concerned groups. But how can legal methods be used on people who don’t recognize the laws of the land and mankind? The Abu Sayyaf gang has beheaded several foreign tourists and Filipinos as they press on with their banditry and extortionate ways.
Filipinos who perpetrate or condone beheadings of fellow human beings and inflict brutal sufferings by keeping victims captives in their jungle lairs can be likened to barbarians.
The Israelis, the so-called Chosen People of God, subscribe to the Old Testament tenet of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” If violence is inflicted on the Israelis, it responds with the same degree or even greater degree of violence against its enemies. As a result, it is surrounded now on all sides by Arab states but no one dares attacks Israel, except the Palestinians occasionally, because they know that Israel will respond with a strong force.
Philippine law enforcement authorities can perhaps take lessons from the Israelis on how to deal with kidnap for ransom gang leaders and members.
1] If leaders or members of kidnap-for-ransom gangs are positively identified, then a child or other loved ones of these gang leaders and members should be similarly abducted and held for as long as victims of these gangs are being held. If kidnappers torment their victims’ families and the whole Filipino nation with their ruthless ways, why shouldn’t these kidnappers be tormented in the same manner? Who can launch this type of action? Not the police or the military, for sure. In lawless places, vigilantes find sufficient justification for being. Davao city under iron-fisted Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has its share of vigilantes, and the model in Davao can perhaps be replicated to deal with kidnap for ransom gang leaders and members.
2] Targeted abductions and assassinations of gang leaders. Leaders of these gangs should be hunted down wherever they go and they should be captured dead or alive or eliminated. Their replacements should similarly be given priority in being hunted down and eliminated via capture or extralegal means. Criminal gangs won’t last long and will die a natural death if they don’t have leaders.
Yes, the squeamish and human rights groups might scream and object. But they should also be asked how they can stop the next beheading of a kidnap victim. they should be asked what they would do if their son or sister is kept by the kidnappers in the jungles of Mindanao for months on end without enough food and medicine against tropical diseases.
Kidnapping for ransom, especially those involving foreign tourists that hurt the whole Filipino nation, has to stop. And these criminals have to be stopped at all costs.