The Philippines’ Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) questioned the United States State Department list of countries with high kidnapping list as it included the country among the 35 countries in the travel advisory.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año doubted the accuracy of the list as he emphasized that the kidnapping cases decreased significantly in recent years. He noted that he would seek the explanation of the U.S. embassy as to how they arrived with the said list.
“A list is just a list. What we have are factual data pointing to the decreasing number of kidnapping cases in the Philippines. That’s what we are banking on,” Año said in a statement as reported by The Philippine Star.
“We don’t know yet how they came up with the list but with the strong stance of President Duterte against criminality in general, we see no basis for including us in this list. We will request from the U.S. embassy (for) the parameters used since even Malaysia and Russia were included,” he added.
As per the data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Interior secretary explained that the latest figures showed only 68 kidnapping cases in 2018 as compared to 79 cases in 2017. The said 19.29 percent decline of 11 cases reduced the risk of visiting the Philippines.
Only 10 kidnapping cases were documented in 2019. Año attributed the decline in kidnapping cases to the implementation of martial law in Mindanao. He noted that the military rule made the southern part of the country safer.
“While personal precaution is necessary, martial law has allowed the Philippine government to deploy more security forces to Mindanao to ensure the safety of the people and foreign guests,” Año explained.
The other countries included in the list were Afghanistan; Mexico; Colombia; Lebanon; Mali; Burkina Faso; Libya; Haiti; Central African Republic; Iraq; Iran; Nigeria; Niger; Pakistan — particularly in the areas of Balochistan province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
The list also included Turkey — with areas near the Syria and Iraq borders; South Sudan; Democratic Republic of the Congo including North Kivu and Ituri provinces; Sudan; Syria; Cameroon — specifically in the North, Far North, Northwest and Southwest regions, and parts of East and Adamawa regions.
Somalia; Venezuela; Papua New Guinea; Kenya; Ukraine — specifically in the Eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts; Uganda; Ethiopia — Somali Regional State; Trinidad and Tobago; Bangladesh specifically Southeast Bangladesh and including the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Russia specifically the north Caucasus including Chechnya and Mount Elbrus; Yemen; Algeria with areas near the Eastern and Southern borders and areas in the Sahara Desert; Malaysia specifically on the Eastern area of Sabah State and Angola on its urban areas. (Nathalie Robles/AJPress)