02 February 2012

Kidnapping and Murder Capital of PHL?

Kidnapping and Murder Capital
Do you know that Cotabato City was known as the "kidnapping capital" of Mindanao in the 1990s? Well, the moniker might further change following a report released to the press showing that 85 murders were committed in the city last year.

Trying to avert the shameful label of being the "kidnapping and murder capital of the Philippines", a dozen peace activists from various foreign-assisted peace advocacy outfits are now contemplating to embark on a roundtable forum to discuss the city’s security woes.

It was only after the January 10 near-fatal ambush of Cotabato Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema that the city’s mixed Muslim and Christian sectors learned that 85 local residents have been killed in 2011.

An incumbent member of the city council, Froilan Melendrez, told reporters that only a small fraction of the murder cases have been solved by the local police.

"When they say solve, they mean corresponding cases have been filed in court," Melendrez told the Philippine Star.

He said the city council is now in possession of documents detailing how many people were killed here the past 12 months.

City police director Danny Reyes, in an interview with Catholic station dxMS here, did not refute the facts Melendrez revealed.

Reyes, however, assured the public that they are doing everything to prevent escalation of crimes in the city.

Along with the 85 killings in 2011 were more than a dozen bombings, more than a dozen supposed bomb attacks were foiled by members of the Army’s 6th Ordnance and Explosive Detachment with their prompt deactivation of powerful improvised explosive devices in different spots here.

Sources from the city's media community, among them officials of the local chapters of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas and the National Union of Journalists, said most of the unsolved murders were perpetrated by notorious guns-for-hire, virtually unfazed by the heavy presence of policemen and battle-ready combatants of the 7th Marine Battalion in the city’s key entry and exit routes.

Two popular hosts of a public affairs program of the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation here, Jeff Mendez and Marychill Faunillan-Hawtay, took turn in asking why the city police office has been reluctant to provide journalists with data on the crimes and other peace and security issues besetting the 37 barangays here.

Chua Yu Beng, a senior official of the city’s Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, earlier said there is an impression now among some of them that ordinary city residents are no longer safe because even the city’s supposedly influential and powerful vice mayor almost got killed in a daring attack last January 10.