On September 1, 2014 a motorist (or someone in a vehicle) saw men storm out of vehicles barricading another vehicle, smash windows, steal the car, and kidnap the occupants—called a “Hulidap” in the Philippines. This incident happened about 10 kilometers away from the U.S. Embassy on a major highway, in daylight hours, in Manila — the capital. Not exactly what an advertisement living up to the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” travel brochure… Maybe it should be updated to “It’s not so safe in the Philippines”…
A hulidap is a merger of the Filipino word “Huli” (meaning catch) and “Hold-up” (thus Hulidap) and became popular after a rise in police corruption cases being reported in the Philippines. Armed robberies (after being detained) are not the only form of corruption within the police force, other articles describe cops “arresting” or detaining individuals until a fee is a paid and the “infraction” is forgiven and the individual(s) free to go.
After seeing this incident, the motorist quickly took a picture and immediately shared it on twitter (whose account has since then been deleted, probably out of fear for his or her life). The EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) highway cameras also captured the event, but the witness photograph showed better detail of the vehicles and license plate numbers.
The armed men took approximately USD $45,000 from the vehicle and another $1500 from their victim’s bank accounts; however, these weren’t just ordinary thugs… these were Philippine National Police (PNP) officers, included among them were two Senior Inspectors and one Chief Inspector.
I have been to the Philippines and, while there, I was usually in the company of someone who had a bodyguard… but then there was a time I went to the Mall of Asia without security and found myself dealing with a bomb scare and seeing first hand mass-panic. In times like that, I want to be able to have trust in the local police, but negative publicity like this incident will continue to make trusting the department difficult.
Fortunately there are good police within the PNP, as the nine members (with a possible tenth still being sought after) have been identified and arrested—again, thanks to the witness who took and shared the picture. It’s just a shame this organization is being tarnished by incidents such as these… as the rogue cops within this organization are identified and rooted out; hopefully, people will once again start to feel safe under the watch of their police forces.
I would still recommend traveling to the Philippines — as there is a lot of history and the resort areas are very nice… I’ve been to Ft Santiago, Binondo (Chinatown), Taal valcano and Cebu… However, I definitely recommend traveling with trusted friends, especially if they are local Filipinos.