When businessmen in southern Maguindanao province threatened to close shop this week to protest against rampant kidnapping, the authorities responded in typical fashion: they announced a revamp of half the provincial police force. Citizens' anti-crime groups said this was merely transferring and not weeding out the problem of crooks in uniform. Revamp or reshuffle has been the national police force's favourite method of dealing with policemen who commit crimes that they say cannot be proven in court. Many crimes involving policemen cannot be prosecuted because those accusing them are too afraid to testify. Despite the widely held perception that many crimes are being committed by law enforcers, very few cases against them have been reported. Last year, the National Police Commission had a total caseload of only 112 appeal cases, and 127 the year before that. Most were AWOL (absence without official leave) cases. From January to April this year, the commission handled 19 cases, of which five were AWOL cases. One case was classified as 'robbery, extortion, car theft, illegal arrest and detention'. Another case fell under 'serious illegal detention, less serious physical injuries and conduct unbecoming a policeman'. No policeman was found to have been involved in any kidnapping. And yet this was the same period when armed forces intelligence chief Brigadier-General Benjamin Libernes tagged 87 active duty policemen as members of kidnapping syndicates. So far, only one police officer - a colonel - has been convicted of kidnapping. He was jailed for life.