White Van Warning

Oh no! Kidnappers in white vans strike again. What is with white vans? Remember Cesar Sayoc, that Florida mail bomber who did so out of his die hard support for President Donald Trump, who unfortunately has Filipino descent? He drove a white van. In the U.S., white vans are highly associated with pedophiles who snatch kids off the streets. Among American women, white vans are seen as “rape vans” or vans that rapists supposedly use to abduct victims. There is a similar running “urban myth” in Australia. I’m not sure how this “phenomenon” can be universal; but for some curious reason, local child kidnappers have joined the bandwagon of driving the white van in criminal activities. One stand-up comedian even jokingly suggested the option of banning white vans altogether. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s this incident in Sipocot in which some persons in a white van attempted to kidnap a Grade 4 pupil. Well, at least, this time, authorities caught hold of one of them – allegedly a female Naga City resident. )Oh my, just around the corner) So, I suppose, we’ll have some clarifications if they really sell child internal organs in the black market. Some two years ago, a wave of paranoia swept across Naga about kidnappers snatching school kids. Let’s look back at it like a Facebook memory. “While alone at 2 in the afternoon of January 21, 2017, a 9 year old boy was suddenly grabbed by men wearing bonnets, and pulled into a white van. The boy was later released from the vehicle after his pulse rate was taken. While inside the van, he allegedly saw severed human body parts. He was found by siblings at the corner of Almeda Highway after an hour.” “After a few days... a 15 year old high school student was seized by men at the corner of Panganiban Drive around 1 in the afternoon of January 26, 2017. The boy was reportedly going home due to a headache. According to the school principal, the kidnappers were driving a black van, but the student was able to fight back and eventually get away, despite incurring bruises.” (news.abs-cbn.com) These reported incidents have caused a wave of paranoia; that rumors have spread that these van riding kidnappers are specifically looking for healthy children supposedly to be retrieved of internal organs. A tale even goes that one child was dropped off the van after the abductors realized that he was not healthy enough. The principal and teachers of the said student support his statement of having been mugged by seven men, and having seen medical apparatus inside the vehicle. According to the account, after losing consciousness for a while, the boy was able to regain his senses and was able to jump off, catching a ride on a tricycle and to a hospital where he was confined for a week. In a Bombo Radyo Naga interview with Mayor John Bongat, he said (at that time)that they are still finding out whether an attempted abduction of a 15-year old student, by unidentified men driving a black van, truly occurred, due to suspicious details on the adolescent’s account of the incident. (www.bomboradyo.com) Naga City Police Director Julius Munez had later denied any truth of child abduction reports which when verified were primarily on hearsay, and simply products of wild imaginations”. (www.newsnow.ph) You may agree or disagree with me; but back then, my rational mind leaned towards doubts over the veracity of the supposed victims claims. I had personally spoken to one of the kidnap victim’s school teachers who was so indignant over the running sentiment then that the whole incident was a hoax; casting blame on the local city government and police on the alleged cover up to supposedly save the local economy. With all due respect to the victim, what made me cast doubt were that one incident of forcible grabbing supposedly occurred along a busy thoroughfare, in which it would be impractical for a vehicle to slow down for that act. The supposed spot was too close to a police outpost. In the report in which the victim allegedly was able to escape by jumping off a running van and rolling the road side (a la action star/stunt man), he was able to recount a specific number of seven men and medical apparatus inside the van, all in a presumably state of haze in a short span of time. I just thought that it was too much detail to absorb with certainty in a dark confined area during a supposed struggle. Furthermore, during that time, the popular TV show “Probinsyano” was following the same plot; an element which cast the possibility of blurring between reality and fantasy. Friends at the PNP dismissed the reports as hoax; although they could just have done that to prevent panic. But this time, it’s undeniably real. “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” Psalm 127:4