The country's ethnic Chinese community took the law into its own hands yesterday after police admitted an alarming increase in kidnappings in the past year. The community mobilised unarmed citizens' patrols, saying police were not effective in preventing its members from being taken hostage. National Police chief Recaredo Sarmiento said 108 people had been abducted this year up to last Tuesday, compared with 74 abductions in the same period last year. Mr Sarmiento made the disclosure at the Senate, as he tried to convince legislators to restore 2.2 billion pesos (HK$653.4 million) slashed from the 1997 National Police budget by the Department of Budget and Management. Crime watch groups said there were more abductions than those listed by police, but that many victims were reluctant to report such crimes. Ethnic Chinese, or Chinese-Filipinos, were disappointed by the inability of the police to stop the abductions, Teresita Ang See, chairman of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, said. Chinese-Filipino businessmen and their families were favourite targets of kidnappers because they rarely complained to the police, preferring to pay a ransom. The chairman and other members of crime watch groups said most victims were reluctant to co-operate with the police because they believed many kidnapping gangs were led or protected by law enforcers or military men and officers. Some admitted the belief had some basis. One police colonel is already serving a jail term for his involvement in the kidnapping of a Taiwanese businessman. The patrols would be composed of about 10 people in 'two or three cars' who would drive around Manila's Chinatown and other areas where Chinese-Filipinos congregate. The volunteers would report any suspicious activity to police. The patrols would be unarmed, although some members would be martial arts experts. This year kidnapping gangs had 'come back with a vengeance', reports said yesterday.