A veteran lawmaker threw his support behind beleaguered businessman Antonio Tiu, who lambasted Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for making light of the kidnapping threat against him should he open his bank accounts in a Senate hearing last week.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian said kidnapping is not a laughing matter, stressing that Cayetano should consider the threat of kidnapping against Tiu and his family seriously in his bid to open the businessman’s bank accounts.
“Kidnapping is no laughing matter and I share the sentiment of Antonio Tiu that the Senate should not take lightly the possibility of Mr. Tiu and his family being kidnapped once he accedes to the demand of Senator Cayetano that he makes public his bank accounts,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian, a stalwart of the Nationalist Peoples Coalition (NPC), issues the statement after Tiu held a press conference, where he showed the video clip of Cayetano asking him to open his bank accounts in Quezon City on Wednesday.
Tiu refused because it would expose him, his family, and his business partners to security risks.
But Cayetano said kidnappers already knew that Tiu is worth billions since the businessman had already disclosed it anyway during Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing last week on the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.
“Mr. Tiu has all the right to fear for his life and for his security since it is on record that Chinoys, who are considered a minority as they constitute only 1.2 percent of the population, are favorite targets of kidnap-for-ransom (KFR) groups,” Gatchalian explained.
Anti-crime crusader Teresita Ang-See also spoke against taking kidnapping lightly and as a tool to squeeze out information in an apparent dig at the way the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee treated Tiu.
Ang-See is the head of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO), which closely monitors kidnapping-for-ransom cases in the Philippines.
Based on the data of MRPO, the recorded kidnapping cases against Filipino-Chinese nationals include 18 incidents in 2012; 26 in 2013; and 28 as of August 2014 while the numbers keep rising.
Among the most recent Filipino-Chinese victims of kidnapping was a 69-year-old owner of an umbrella factory, Benito Chao, who was abducted in Caloocan City the night of Aug. 27.
The next evening, an MRPO leader received a text message: the Filipino-Chinese businessman had been found dead in Santa Maria, Bulacan province, shot through the head. After Chao, three more Filipino Chinese victims of kidnapping were committed on Aug. 31.
As mayor of Valenzuela City for nine years, Gatchalian was consulted by families of kidnap victims and his advice was for them to be proactive and this include the employment of close-in security, the avoidance of a set pattern in going to the office and to the school and the bullet-proofing of vehicles to those who can afford it.
Gatchalian said it is important that Filipino-Chinese national who are potential targets for kidnap gangs make themselves “hard targets” by employing such proactive measures and reliance on the Philippine National Police for protection should be the last thing that Chinoys should do.
He said Mr. Tiu has no other recourse now but reinforce his personal and his family’s security since it is safe to assume that kidnappers have already learned from the media how wealthy the Sunchamp owner is making him a potential kidnap victim.
“If Chinoys like Mr. Tiu have the resources, it is best that they use it to make themselves hard targets for kidnappers since these lawless elements prefer the easy ones as this involves lesser risk for their group,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian is one of several congressmen who filed a bill requiring the registration of all pre-paid SIM cards since it has been an open secret that criminal elements have been using untraceable SIM cards to ply their illicit activities, including kidnapping. (R. Burgos)