Chinese fear wave of Manila kidnaps

THE Chinese community in the Philippines is bracing for an upsurge in kidnappings following the forced resignation of the two policemen regarded as the chief protectors against kidnap-for-ransom gangs operating in Chinatown.

Removed from duty were National Capital Region Command director Chief Superintendent Jewel Canson and the head of the President's Anti-Crime Commission taskforce, Habagat, Chief Superintendent Panfilo Lacson.

Both ethnic Chinese, they are accused of masterminding the summary execution of 11 members of the bank robbing gang, Kuratong Baleleng, last month.

The chairman of the Chinatown-based Citizens Action Against Crime Committee, Professor Teresita Ang See, said the community was 'terrified' because many Chinese children had returned from overseas for the opening of the new school year, which started yesterday.

Professor Ang See, the official spokesman for the community, said: 'The sacking of these two police officers, who were the only two senior policemen the Chinese community would trust, or talk to, means kidnap-for-ransom gangs are back in power after a decline of almost three years. The two policemen are widely respected by the Chinese community because they are known to have knocked back two huge bribes, one amounting to 10 million pesos [about HK$3 million] each, and the other to two million pesos, to release the suspects in two kidnap cases.' Go Bunjuan, editor of World News, a Chinese language newspaper which serves the Chinese community, said Chinese families who became victims of kidnap gangs would only trust Mr Lacson or Mr Canson as mediators.

'No other policeman is acceptable,' Mr Go explained.