The Philippines – Forces intensify anti-kidnap drive

June 2, 2013


Dismantling the network and neutralizing key leaders of kidnap-for-ransom groups are key to ending abductions in Western Mindanao, security officials said

Forces intensify anti-kidnap drive


Sr. Supt. Edwin S. de Ocampo, chief of the city police, said his office has intensified its intelligence gathering drive in tracking down key leaders of kidnapping groups.

“There is a fusion of information from the police and military intelligence units to track down leaders of this KFR (kidnap-for-ransom) groups,” he told BusinessWorld yesterday.

On Sunday, four members of a kidnap-for-ransom group based in nearby Zamboanga Sibugay province were nabbed in a shopping mall in this city.

Mr. de Ocampo said the police are monitoring the movements of the group for weeks with the suspects having standing warrants of arrest.

On Wednesday, another suspect was also apprehended in the town of Naga in Zamboanga Sibugay.

“These people are plain bandits. They are not members of any known kidnap groups such as the Abu Sayyaf Group. Some are rogue members of insurgency groups,” said Mr. de Ocampo.

On a parallel effort, officials of the military’s Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) said continuing operations have been ordered to capture Abu Sayyaf leaders in the island-provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.


“There will be no letup in our efforts to neutralize these lawless groups,” Rodrigo T. Gregorio, spokesman of the command, said in a separate interview.

Military operations have been intensified following the intense battle between soldiers and the Sawadjaan faction of the Abu Sayyaf last Saturday. At least seven soldiers, including an officer, were killed in the encounter.

Mr. Gregorio said bandit casualties have reached 13 based on intelligence as of Thursday.

He said “continuing” military operations will deter kidnapping.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani, European birdwatchers Ewold Horn and Lorenzo Vinciguerra, Filipino-Chinese Carlos Ty Tiam, Japanese Toshio Ito and an unnamed child.

For his part, WesMinCom chief Maj. Gen. Rey C. Ardo said the military is putting pressure on the bandits while making sure the kidnap victims are safe.

“The safety of the victim is our utmost priority,” he said.

On Wednesday, the US and the British embassies have issued separate travel advisories to their citizens to avoid Western Mindanao, including Zamboanga Peninsula, due to threats of kidnapping.

“We will not take it [advisories] for granted,” Mr. de Ocampo said, adding that authorities have laid out a new security plan.

Col. Andrelino G. Colina, commander of Task Force Zamboanga, said “proactive” measures are needed to stall kidnapping activities, including gathering of information from within the criminal groups.

Although most of the current victims are foreigners, kidnappers are no longer selective in the target victims to include teachers, aid workers and small-time businessmen.

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American dad indicted in abduction of 3 kids to The Philippines

Source: Delaware online


December 16, 2011

A federal grand jury has indicted a former Delaware man on charges he abducted his three children six years ago to obstruct the parental custody rights of their mother.

Benjamin John Soliman Defensor 3rd, 39, was charged with international parental kidnapping for taking his three children to the Philippines in May 2005.

Defensor is believed to still be living in the Philippines with the children, the oldest of whom is now over 18 years old.

“Individuals who illegally remove children from the United States to thwart a parent’s legal custody rights are in violation of federal law,” said Charles Oberly III, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware.

If returned to the United States, Defensor could receive up to three years in prison on each of the three counts.

FBI Assistant Special Agent Leo Taddeo, of the Baltimore Division, said the indictment and arrest warrant is a special step toward returning Defensor to this country to face charges.

In a statement, Taddeo said that the FBI will continue working with Interpol and its international partners on the case.

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Norsk kvinne pågrepet for barnebortføring på Filippinene

En norsk kvinne (44) skal være arrestert på Filippinene, siktet for å ha bortført sin egen datter, melder lokale medier.

Den 44 år gamle kvinnen ble pågrepet i byen Kalibo i Aklan-provinsen sist tirsdag. Ifølge nettstedet Inquirer News deltok både lokalt politi og Interpol i aksjonen. Også kvinnens 15 år gamle datter ble tatt hånd om av politiet før hun ble overført til lokalt barnevern.

Norsk arrestordre

Grunnlaget for pågripelsen av kvinnen var en arrestordre utstedt av Nordmøre tingrett 23. august. Det skal være kvinnens mann som har anmeldt henne for å ha bortført datteren.

– Vi kan bekrefte at dette er en pågående sak og vil komme med en uttalelse i løpet av mandagen, sier politiadvokat Lina Ersvik Pettersen i Nordmøre og Romsdal politidistrikt til NTB.

Sporet opp

Fra Filippinene meldes det at kvinnen har oppholdt seg i landet i fem år og at norske myndigheter bidro til å spore henne opp etter at hun hadde bedt venner i Norge om å overføre penger.

Politiet sier det er nødvendig å ha både 44-åringen og 15-åringen i varetekt inntil videre.

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Philippines: Interpol arrests Norwegian mother wanted for parental child abduction

Source: U.S News

Joint operatives of the International Police (Interpol), Kalibo Philippine National Police, Aklan Provincial Police Office (APPO) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here arrested a 44-year-old Norwegian national for allegedly abducting a minor in his country.

Police Officer 2 Nida Gregas, deputy public information officer of the APPO, said the Interpol was able to trace the whereabouts of the suspect after the 15-year-old victim (Daughter) posted her whereabouts at her facebook page.

“The complainant on this case was the mother of the victim who reported that her daughter had gone missing in Norway. The victim had been reported missing for several years already,” Gregas said.

Under the Philippine law, the identity of the suspect could not be revealed in accordance with the law on the abuse against children.

The suspect claimed that the victim is her daughter and that he and the victim’s mother have quarreled as to who will take custody of the daughter. The suspect then decided to hide the victim at their residence in Andagao Village, Kalibo, Aklan where they were found.

Currently, the police is awaiting for the representative of the Norway Embassy for the turnover of the suspect and the victim. 

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Philippine police officer wanted for murder of Norwegian 18-year-old in Quezon

A police officer from Manila calls for the murder of the Norwegian 18-year-old Michael Troy Johansen Rasay, according to the newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Rasay was killed Sunday when he allegedly tried to stop a fight in the town of QuezonCity, Philippines.

Those involved in the brawl have turned against the 18-year-old, and a witnesses did see him fight with one of the policeman’s colleagues just before shots were fired.

Police Chief George Regis in Quezon City Police District (QCPD) said to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the police officer has not shown up for work since the shooting and that he has not been in his home.

– He should turn himself in so that this matter can be resolved quickly, said police.

The murder happened outside a bar. The police found the suspect’s identity because he handed over his gun to the security guards at the bar earlier that evening. He then gave the guards his name.

– He was the only person who had handed in a weapon at the bar, said lead investigatoron the case.

According to police, the officer is likely to be charged with murder.

The shooting happened at 5:45 Sunday morning local time. 18-year-old was pronounced dead at hospital at 7.35

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Norwegian (18) shot and killed in the Philippines

A Norwegian 18-year-old was Sunday morning shot and killed in Quezon City, Philippines.

the 18-year-old was on holiday in the area when he was shot.
We were told about it last night, Norwegian time, confirms Frode Andersen,Duty press at the Foreign Ministry, told VG Nett.

He will not say anything about the motive for the killing, but several friends said that the deceased must have been trying to avert a fight.
Andersen says the killing is being investigated by the Philippine police.
The young man’s bereaved family should be notified.

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2 Americans abducted in southern Philippines

Source: Herald Online

By TERESA CEROJANO – Associated Press

MANILA, Philippines — 

More than a dozen armed men abducted a naturalized American, her teenage son and Filipino nephew before dawn Tuesday from a southern Philippine island near a stronghold of al-Qaida-linked militants, officials said.

Suspicion fell on the notorious Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for ransom kidnappings, beheadings and bombings in the last two decades, or a Muslim rebel commander whose group has been linked to previous abductions.

The 400-plus Abu Sayyaf militants, who are fighting for an Islamist state in the predominantly Christian nation, are holding three other kidnap victims, including a child, as part of desparate efforts to raise funds, according to the Philippine army.

The assailants seized Gerfa Yeatts Lunsmann, her 14-year-old son and 19-year-old Filipino nephew from a house in Zamboanga city’s Tictabon island village, then fled with their captives in two motorized boats, said police Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo.

No contact or ransom demand has been made by the abductors, and their identities remain unconfirmed, de Ocampo said.

It happened near Basilan Island, the birthplace and stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf militants, about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila.

The largest Muslim separatist group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is present in the area but it has been negotiating with the government and a cease-fire has largely held for several years.

However, the military said a separatist Moro commander identified as Waning Abdulsalam may have been responsible. Rebel spokesman Von Al Haq said his group would investigate but that it has no such report and will not tolerate criminal activities.

Police earlier said the woman was a Filipino married to a German and the family lives in the U.S. state of Virginia.

But army Col. Buenaventura Pascual, commander of an anti-terrorist task force in Zamboanga, said his men on Tictabon Island saw the U.S. passports of Lunsmann and her son, showing they were American citizens.

Lunsmann, 50, was originally from Basilan and her previous name was Jerpa Usman, police and military officials said.

Pascual said the woman’s husband is apparently an American citizen of German ancestry. He did not accompany his wife and son, who arrived in the Philippines two weeks ago to visit relatives.

Calls and text messages to the U.S. Embassy were unanswered Tuesday.

“We have deployed troops to track down the victims,” Pascual said.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the local crisis committee was convened and that police and the military were trying to rescue the victims and capture the culprits.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said intelligence reports showed the victims may have been brought to Basilan’s Tuburuan township.

Abducted to The Philippines – Parental Child Abduction

The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
Hundreds of American parents face a similar plight, fighting from within the United States to bring home children they say were kidnapped and taken abroad by the other parent. The U.S. State Department is handling roughly 1,000 international parental kidnapping cases, including seven that involve children taken to the Philippines.

Many parents left behind face linguistic, cultural, geographical and legal barriers. Often, the spouse is a citizen, or can become a citizen, of the country to which he or she has fled and is entitled to that country’s protection.

The Philippines sees parental kidnapping as a custody dispute, not a crime. And the country isn’t party to the international treaty that created a process for resolving such disputes.

The Philippine government says it cooperates with U.S. law enforcement and consular officials to locate children alleged to have been abducted and check on their welfare. The officials also can help negotiate a return. But in many cases, the decision on whether the children should be sent back to the parent in the United States falls to the courts.

You should contact your local police station if your child has been taken overseas without your consent or if you fear your child will be abducted

There are 3 broad categories of child abduction:

  • Abduction – where a child is taken overseas without the other parent’s consent – this may be a criminal offense.
  • Wrongful retention – where a child has been retained in a foreign country following an overseas trip
  • Threat of abduction – where there is a risk that a child will be taken overseas
The Philippines is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, nor are there any international or bilateral treaties in force between the Philippines and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. Therefore, there is no treaty remedy by which the left behind parent would be able to pursue recovery of the child/ren should they be abducted to or wrongfully retained in the Philippines. Once in the Philippines, the child/ren would be completely subject to Philippine law for all matters including custody.
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Philippines: Manila to host international conference on child abuse

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of delegates from the Philippines and around the world are expected to attend the annual Ako Para Sa Bata (I Am For The Child) Manila Conference to be held at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Manila from Dec. 5 to 7.

Organized by the Child Protection Network Foundation (CPN), the three-day conference with the themeCreating Safe and Caring Environments for Children is set to discuss key issues and feasible measures to effectively combat child neglect.

“Child neglect is one of the most prevalent forms of child abuse. We forget abuse is not limited to the physical aspect, there are also many environmental factors that threaten the emotional wellness of children,” said Dr. Bernadette Madrid, executive director of CPN.

Last year’s conference proved to be a success as it was attended by more than 650 participants, including representatives from government and non-government organizations (NGOs), domestic and international law enforcement agencies, medical professionals, academia, as well as parents, social workers, youth and children organizations and the media.

“We will be presenting a comprehensive review of the latest research, on-the-ground experience and different perspectives in tackling child neglect. By bringing together the diverse groups we hope to come up with recommendations that are inclusive, practical and doable in the Philippine setting,” said Dr. Stella Manalo, Organizing Committee Conference chair.

The two-day symposia will tackle a wide range of topics including media, sex and violence; proper media diet for children; family values in children; preventing child neglect and child endangerment; safe havens for children in times of disaster/in areas of conflict; caring homes; changing Filipino perspectives in adoption issues; non-violence in the school; and safety in the field, in court or at home.

Post Conference Workshops will be also conducted by the Philippine Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Philippine Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Society of Adolescent Medicine of the Philippines, Inc., PsychConsult, Inc. and CPN itself.

“The nation cannot afford not to prevent the abuse of its children. Through proper support, training and resources, we can ensure every child gets the bright, safe and healthy future they deserve,” concluded Dr. Madrid.

Interested delegates and sponsors may contact the Event Manager, Global-Link MP Events International, Inc. at 750-8588/887-1304; fax no. 750-8585/887-1304 or e-mail  for details.

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Sharp rise in international parental kidnapping cases

By: Emily Babay

One year ago, Douglass Berg, of Reston, said goodbye to his son and daughter before they boarded a flight with his ex-wife on what was supposed to be a three-week visit to her native Japan. He has not seen the children since.

Stefanie Gardner, a native of Germany, traveled to that country with the two young sons she had been raising in Northern Virginia with her estranged husband, Gregory. Since then, she has refused to allow them to return. He accused her of kidnapping the boys, and a warrant for her arrest was issued in the United States. But a German court has awarded her sole custody.

For an increasing number of parents in the Washington area, child-bearing relationships with a foreign partner are deteriorating into charges of child abductions, and in many cases legal struggles in which the deck is stacked against Americans fighting the laws of another country.

Nationwide, the number of cases is rising dramatically. There were 1,135 international child abductions in fiscal 2009, according to State Department statistics. That’s nearly double the 642 cases reported in 2006.

Foreign travel, military operations and immigration have spurred an increase in international relationships, experts say. And an international city such as Washington, full of embassy personnel and staffers for global companies, is fertile ground for such abductions. But parents of different nationalities raising children together can lead to “cultural differences that people may not be willing to compromise on,” said Donna Linder, executive director of the nonprofit Child Find of America.

Berg told The Washington Examiner that his ex-wife “felt like I was invading her turf” by sharing custody of Gunnar, now age 10, and Kianna, 9, after their divorce. She thought child care was a mom’s responsibility.

“That may be her culture, but that’s certainly not mine,” he said.

Gardner’s attorneys say tensions grew between Gardner and her husband, and he consented to her taking the children to Germany in 2004.

German court documents show that, in 2005, she was awarded custody of Alec, now age 8, and Dominic, now 7. In 2006, a federal warrant was issued for Gardner’s arrest. Her attorneys are trying to get the charge dropped. One of them, Steven Gremminger, said they’ve given authorities information from German courts and the prosecutor “has indicated that she’s having the FBI review that.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria and the FBI declined to comment.

“There’s nothing easy” about international abduction cases, said Stefanie Eye, a State Department division chief for abductions. “You’re dealing with the laws of two or more sovereign nations.” Resolutions are often hard to find.

In 1994, the ex-husband of Catherine Meyer — who would later marry British ambassador Christopher Meyer — abducted her sons to Germany. While in D.C., Catherine Meyer became an advocate on parental abduction issues. Over nine years, she saw her children for just a few hours. The case was only resolved when the boys became adults and free to reunite with her.

That’s the moment Berg is waiting for, he said. He has created Web sites he hopes Gunnar and Kianna will find so “they realize that their father loves them very much and realize I was trying to get ahold of them.”

No one keeps statistics on how often criminal prosecutions are pursued in such cases. But even that doesn’t guarantee a child’s return. The FBI doesn’t have jurisdiction overseas, so it must rely on foreign authorities. Many cases reach an impasse, where children remain with the parent who has them. Often, no one can force an abducting parent to give up a child or return home, said Preston Findlay, a lawyer with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

For the parents on both sides, it’s a frustrating wait.

Gardner is “not a kidnapper, she’s a mom, and a good mom,” Gremminger said. And Berg said he continues to lose sleep wondering if he’ll see his children again. “It’s all you can think about,” he said.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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