On July 16, a man wearing shorts was seen struggling against another man on a busy street in Manila. It seemed like he was being held against his will in broad daylight.
During the scuffle, the man was forced to enter a black pick-up truck that soon sped off. Witnesses heard a gunshot and two men arguing about stealing something. The police arrived at the scene following reports from concerned citizens and security footage.
At a glance, this may look like a kidnapping. Witnesses, however, will be relieved to find that the truth is much stranger: the alleged victim was actually the suspect.
According to the Manila Police District, the man who was thought to be kidnapped turned out to be a thief who, unknowingly, tried to steal a gold chain from an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation. The agent was at an ATM when the thief came along. The tussle that passersby witnessed turned out to be the agent arresting the suspect, who is now currently still under investigation for other crimes he committed in the past.
This case of “kidnapping” is, of course, an exception, rather than the rule. The scenario would have ended very differently if the government agent was literally anybody else, or if it was indeed a kidnapping. Witnesses were right to sound the alarms.
Fears surrounding public kidnappings remain persistent in the Philippines. Around 69 people were kidnapped in the country last year, according to the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG). Loan sharks, extremist groups, human trafficking syndicates, and even the police themselves are said to be responsible for these crimes. Even children are not spared.