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Police officers in the Philippines arrested for kidnapping 4 tourists and demanding a ransom

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Four police officers assigned in the Philippine capital region have been arrested for kidnapping for ransom that victimized four foreign tourists, officials said Wednesday.

Two of the officers onboard motorcycles flagged down a luxury car carrying three Chinese and a Malaysian over the weekend, while their armed civilian cohorts handcuffed and dragged the four tourists into a van. Two of the Chinese managed to escape and notified authorities, police said.

The remaining captives were beaten by the kidnappers but freed overnight after payment of a 2.5-million-peso ($43,100) ransom, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said. Information provided by the freed tourists and images from security cameras led to the arrest of the four police, including a police major, he said.

A security camera footage the police obtained showed the suspected kidnappers, including one who appeared to be in police uniform, stopping a car then forcibly pulling out its passengers in full view of many passing motorists. One of the passengers is seen struggling to break loose as he was shoved into a van.

“I was shocked that policemen were the ones involved,” Abalos said in a news conference, where the four police were presented in handcuffs and orange detainee shirts. “This incident is a serious breach of public trust and core values of the police force.”

Police said they’re looking for at least 10 other suspects who were not police but implicated in the kidnapping.

Police said they filed criminal complaints for kidnapping, carjacking and robbery against the suspects.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte had described many members of the national police, numbering more than 230,000 nationwide, as “rotten to the core,” although he ordered them to enforce his anti-drugs crackdown that led to the killings of thousands of mostly poor suspects.

The International Criminal Court has been investigating the large-scale killings as a possible crime against humanity. Duterte and the national police chiefs who served under him had denied authorizing extrajudicial killings athough the former president had publicly threatened drug suspects with death during his presidency, which ended in 2022.

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