Kidnap killings raise alarm in Philippines

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The Independent Online

The murder of a businesswoman and her police bodyguard after their abduction earlier this week may signal a new wave of kidnappings for ransom in the Philippines.

Connie Wong and Dionisio Burca Jr, the police officer, were killed on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after they were seized, a very short period for a ransom kidnapping, said Teresita Ang See, who runs the watchdog organisation Citizens' Action Against Crime. "We did not expect that, after negotiating the first day, on the second day it was cut off," Ms Ang See said.

She said she had called for an urgent meeting of the government's National Anti-Crime Commission to discuss a resurgence of kidnappings.

Her group has listed 93 kidnappings so far this year, in which 202 people have been abducted, including three Americans and 17 Filipinos seized by the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf from a tourist resort in May. More than half of the abductions occurred in Manila, and the victims were mostly wealthy Chinese-Filipinos.

The watchdog estimates that kidnap gangs have collected about 142 million pesos (£2m) in ransom payments. There was no immediate comment from the police.

Ms Wong and Mr Burca were seized in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila, early on Monday, by seven gunmen in two vehicles who blocked their car. The two and her driver, Archangel Barquilla, were taken to the group's hideout as the kidnappers sought a reported ransom of 50 million pesos, police said.

The negotiations apparently failed and the kidnappers shot Ms Wong and Mr Burca in the head late on Tuesday, leaving their bodies in the suburb of Valenzuela. Mr Barquilla, who was handcuffed to the dying officer, escaped death because a gun malfunctioned, police said.

Ms Wong's niece was kidnapped earlier this year but released within 24 hours when her family reportedly paid about 20 million pesos. Ms Wong worked as a collection agent for the family's foam-making company.

Ms Ang See said at least four people remained in the hands of kidnap gangs. (AP)

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