DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 Feb) – The Sta. Ana police precinct here has filed a complaint of kidnapping against a 60-year-old woman after she returned a two-year-old child to authorities last week.
Charged was Deodita Antero, a resident of Ruiz Village, in Agdao after taking the child, Keighla Quinanola, from the Gaisano Mall here. Antero claimed she picked up Keighla because she was all alone in the mall, enjoyed her company, and even brought her out dancing and had her hair cut.
Keighla’s disappearance made headlines in television and print media after photos of the child circulated in social media sites like Facebook since being taken from the mall.
She was last seen around 4:30 p.m. Monday last week.
The child was surrendered to the Sta. Ana police precinct last Thursday, four days later, and eventually given to her parents during turnover rites attended by Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte the same night.
Antero said she planned on returning the girl on Thursday while she was looking for a number to contact.
Sr. Supt Vicente Danao, Davao City Police Office chief, said in an interview that the popularity of the Facebook post helped in the return of the girl to her parents.
However, Danao appealed to concerned citizens to go first to proper authorities and not spread the news to social media sites like Facebook and similar channels, especially in cases of kidnapping.
“Go to the nearest law enforcer,” Danao said. “You can go to the PNP, the anti-kidnapping task force, the women and children’s desk, even security guards. Just go to the authorities first,” he stressed.
The police official said information spread through social media sites and word of mouth could have imperiled the life of the child had the suspected kidnapper found out about the news going out.
However, Danao admitted that the virality of the information released on Facebook helped in the return of the child.
Asked whether he approved of involving social media sites regarding crimes, Danao said it depended on the situation.
“What if the person found out that there is a reward and decided to harm the person because of the information?” Danao said.
Danao added that victims facing such a crisis should consult a law enforcer who would guide them with what to do.
“Good thing the perpetrator returned the child,” Danao said.
Danao added that the DCPO had tapped the anti-kidnapping group immediately when they found out about Quinanola’s disappearance.
Antero has been charged in violation of Section 267 (kidnapping and serious legal detention) of the Revised Penal Code, Danao said.
“We found out that the case could fall for kidnapping,” Danao said.
The suspect is currently being held at the Sta. Ana Police precinct.
During last Sunday’s “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” television show, Duterte reminded parents of children until ages 5 to watch their children attentively, especially in public areas like malls.
The mayor personally berated Antero when he arrived during the turnover.
Duterte recommended during the television show to keep their children on a leash-like device that allowed the children to both walk around within reach of the parents.
“It’s an accepted practice,” Duterte said.
The mayor said he could imagine what the parents are going through when their child was missing.
In an interview, Department of Social and Welfare and Development Regional Director Priscilla Razon said the department was ready to give immediate psychosocial sessions with the parents after the event.
“We’re ready to provide counselling and other support, especially since the child was gone for many days,” Razon said.
But she stressed they also wanted “to find out if the parents were negligent.”
Razon added they were also willing to give counselling for the suspect to find out the circumstances of the case from her side.