PNP craks down on BIR ‘kidnaps’

PHILIPPINE National Police agents are working to identify and neutralize a gang of kidnappers-robbers preying on wealthy Bureau of Internal Revenue officials and employees in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

“We are going all-out to smash this gang of kidnappers and thieves, some of them believed to be rogue law enforcers and in fact, we are fully coordinating with the BIR leadership to address the matter,” said a high-ranking PNP official who demanded anonymity.

Sources noted the suspects’ mode of kidnapping. First, they normally used two to three vehicles and wore police uniforms or t-shirts with ‘NBI’ markings.

After accosting their targets in the guise of conducting a legitimate law enforcement operation, the suspects will tell their prey that they are the subject of an ongoing government anti-corruption investigation.

In many cases, the armed men who seized the victims transferred them to their vehicle where they were hogtied and gagged. The kidnappers later forced their victims to call their residence and told their helpers they will be coming on in another vehicle.

As soon as the kidnappers gain entry into their target’s residences, they will hogtie the other occupants of the house and steal cash and valuables in the area. Sources said that the kidnappers have gained notoriety for looking for the safety vault of their victims and ordering them to open it.

As soon as they have scooped up all the contents of the vault, the gunmen will flee the area with their victims who, in all recorded cases were not harmed and released in a remote area after being threatened with physical harm by the suspects.

Sources said they have received information that the gang had been targeting BIR officials as a result of the tips they have been getting from the BIR insider. Apparently, the KFR gang has been targeting BIR officials who are keeping millions of pesos in safety vaults in their rooms because they could not deposit such kind of money in the bank lest they attract the attention of the Anti-Money Laundering Council,” one official involved in the investigation into the spate of incidents said on condition of anonymity.

Last June 20 alone, kidnappers freed BIR District Revenue Officer Emilia Combes after abducting her earlier that day in Brgy. Mariana near the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. Although she was unharmed, the traumatized victim was taken to the St. Luke’s Medical Center at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

“Wala namang indication na sinaktan, maliban sa natraumatized yung biktima and hindi maka-usap. Ang naka-usap natin ay yung kanyang mga anak na rumesponde sa sitwasyon na iyon,” QCPD director, Brigadier General Joselito T. Esquivel Jr. told newsmen after the victim was released.

The QCPD director suspected that the kidnppers targeted Combes not because of her position in the BIR but due to her travel agency business since the kidnapping happened near her office.

The QCPD said that the gunmen stole P300,000 in cash and some P500,000 worth of jewelry from the BIR official before releasing her unharmed.

Journal Group sources said that during the investigation of the kidnapping of BIR employee Merlina Gamiao in Caloocan City on Sept. 6, 2017, PNP-AKG agents arrested a man who confessed his involvement in the abduction and robbery of BIR officials particularly in Bicol and Metro Manila.

Sources said that the suspect identified at least 10 members of their syndicate and identified a BIR official as their “tipster.” A member of the KFR and robbery-holdup ring identified as Police Officer 1 Wilbert Peralta was killed in 2013.