Philippine cops urge calm as they hunt for kidnappers

Philippine cops urge calm as they hunt for kidnappers
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The Philippine National Police has formed a special investigation task group (SITG) to investigate kidnappings in Batangas.

At the same time, the Calabarzon police office appealed to the public to avoid spreading unverified information about supposed abductions of children in the province.

"We appeal to the public not to disseminate unverified information that might cause panic," said Chief Supt. Richard Albano, director of the Calabarzon police office.

Authorities created Friday the "SITG Batang Anghel" to investigate cases of children gone missing in the province. Reports of missing children have made the rounds of social media.

Four children, aged between 11 and 14, were reportedly abducted on Aug. 27 in Bauan town in Batangas. The children remain missing.

Increased visibility

"Additional policemen were deployed to ensure maximum police visibility and protection, especially near schools. We appeal to the public to report anything suspicious," said Senior Supt. Jireh Fidel, Batangas police provincial director.

Albano, for his part, said the SITG was urging the public "to be vigilant and to report any incidents to the police. Any information will be treated as confidential."

The Calabarzon police have met with the families of the missing children, Albano said, and investigators were looking for eyewitnesses and profiling the victims.

"We want to reassure the families the SITG will do everything to return their children to them," Albano said. "They will be given security if needed so they may be relieved of their fear."

The Batangas police have increased their visibility in public areas, particularly around schools.

Since Friday, policemen have been securing public schools in the towns of Bauan, Alitagtag and Cuenca and in the cities of Lipa and Batangas.

Panicky parents

This after panicky parents came in droves to the Batangas National High School (BNHS) in Batangas City on Friday to pick up their children midway through their classes.

BNHS principal Lorna Ochoa said school officials had to call the police to calm the parents.

Batangas police information officer Insp. Hazel Luma-ang said maximum police visibility would continue until the case of the four missing children was solved.

The police have dismissed as a hoax a separate report about children allegedly being abducted in Batangas City and San Pascual town.

Informants about suspicious incidents may call the Calabarzon police regional office at 049-5312293, 0917-8974365 or 0916-3987627.

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