PNP: Link between ‘kidnappings’ and illegal drugs seen

By Aaron Recuenco

The Philippine National Police (PNP) sees a connection between illegal drugs and the recent cases of alleged “white van kidnappings” in Metro Manila.

Pasay City police chief Col. Bernard Yang said the drug connection was supported by the investigations they conducted into seven cases of alleged kidnapping in Pasay City which went viral on social media.

Based on the social media posts, nine cases were reported in Pasay City but Yang said the verification they made revealed that there were only seven.

Tie to illegal drug activities?

Yang said he sent investigators to verify the report and they found out that some of those missing were engaged in illegal drugs activities.

"A parent of one of the missing mentioned something about the involvement of his child in illegal drugs," Yang said in a press briefing at the National Capital Region Police Office satellite office in Quezon City.

"Another relative also admitted that another missing victim is also involved in illegal drugs," he added.

Two more victims were also involved in illegal drugs transactions as confirmed by their neighbors based on the investigation of the Pasay City police.

The three other missing victims, according to Yang, are also engaged in online selling. He said the police are yet to gather proof that the online selling also involves illegal drugs.

Based on the investigation by the Pasay police, the ages of the missing victims range from 16 to 22.

"Our theory is that maybe these victims failed to remit the payments for the illegal drugs transactions to their bosses," said Yang.

"Most likely, some of them opted to hide because they know what is going to happen," he added.

Yang said some of the friends of the victims told the police that their friends are merely hiding.

Yang said the investigation they conducted also includes the footage captured via closed-circuit television, the video of which also went viral on social media.

In some of the seven cases of missing persons, police said that they may have been taken by a drugs crime group.

"There were a lot of cases in the past wherein drug syndicates would run after those who would double-cross them," said Yang.

A different story

In Quezon City, there were 10 cases of minors earlier reported to be missing by their parents and relatives.

Quezon City Police District director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo said they were not taken by the white van kidnappers.

"There's this case about a 13-year-old girl who eloped with her boyfriend. She went missing from August and it was only when she went back to her home that it was found out what really happened," said Montejo.

"There's also a case of a 12-year-old boy who was reported missing for two weeks. It turned out that he was with an old friend," he added.

Montejo said all the 10 cases had different reasons for why they went missing but these were not connected to van-riding kidnappers.

Kidnappings ‘fake news’

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac earlier branded as fake news the social media posts about white van kidnappings.

He advised netizens to be responsible about what they post or share as this only creates panic.

"If their relatives or friends are really missing, why not go to the police stations?" Banac said.