4 Philippine officers arrested on suspicion of abducting foreigners

Government official condemns the alleged kidnapping as a “serious breach of public trust.”
BenarNews staff
4 Philippine officers arrested on suspicion of abducting foreigners Philippine Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. speaks to reporters in Manila following the arrests of four police officers, June 5, 2024.

Four Philippine police officers have been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping three Chinese tourists and a Malaysian, officials said Wednesday.

Security camera footage released by the interior department showed two suspects allegedly flagging down a luxury van carrying the foreigners in Manila on Sunday. The two other suspects allegedly handcuffed and dragged the tourists onto a waiting car.

But two of the victims managed to escape and told authorities, the interior department said.

“This is a serious breach of public trust and core values of the police force,” Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos Jr. said, adding that the remaining two hostages had been beaten and forced to hand over 2.5 million pesos (U.S. $42,578) before they were released on Monday.

“We are not happy when policemen are involved in illegal activities. This has a life imprisonment penalty and this should serve as a stern warning that we will not be forgiving,” Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Rommel Francisco Marbil told local media.

A police incident report obtained by BenarNews said the suspects were a police major and three subordinates assigned in the capital region. Local authorities arrested the four shortly after the incident and filed robbery, kidnapping and car theft charges.

Officials said 10 civilian accomplices remained at large, including a Filipino businessman identified as a former Manila city councilor who allegedly planned the abduction, and a possible immigration officer.

The four victims were identified as Chinese nationals Meng Zhao, 29, and Yang Zhuan, 30, who reported the crime to authorities. Their companions, Malaysian national, Tan Heng Fei, 25, and Chinese national, Zhi Xi Yuan, 32, were “injured and released after [the] payment of ransom,” the report said.


Police corruption is a lingering issue in the Philippines.

In October 2016, months after Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo, 53, was kidnapped by police officers who had claimed he was arrested under the administration’s drug war. His captors strangled him to death inside the PNP headquarters and extorted 5 million pesos ($85,154) from his widow under the pretense that he was still alive.

A local court in 2023 found a police officer and a former National Bureau of Investigation agent guilty of charges related to the businessman’s death.

In January 2017, Duterte said that several members of the police force – numbering more than 220,000 nationwide – were “corrupt to the core,” even as he ordered the same police force to enforce his anti-drug war.

Rights groups and the government have said at least 8,000 suspected drug addicts and dealers were killed under Duterte’s drug war. 

A 2021 investigation by the Philippine Justice Department said that in many cases, police officers involved in the killings did not follow protocol and could be prosecuted. So far, only four police officers have been convicted of murder linked to drug war killings.

Jojo Riñoza and Gerard Carreon in Manila contributed to this report.


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