It's a real scare now!
The first time it was heard over local news radio and TV, the police authorities were quick to denounce the reports and called them false and exaggerated. But the "false" accounts didn't die. Instead, they grew larger and more scary as the stories went from the mouths of the local townsfolk.
The "Internal Gang" is not quite a correct term for it (grammar and form - wise) but it is by this name that it is now widely known. The picture -- children aged between 3-12 years old have been mysteriously missing and turning up dead with internal organs missing --hearts, kidneys, lungs, including eyes)-- with money (ranging from 5k to 100k, according to unverified reports) tucked somewhere inside the dead bodies.
The modus operandi (again, according to unverified reports) -- a van roams around, lurking over places where children are, its passengers trying to lure children to get a free ride and surely, once inside the van, heaven knows what's next.
True or False?
As of now, reports contradict each other. A body will turn up somewhere and would right away be thought of as a case under this newest scare. Follow up reports will clarify later that the dead body is not a "victim" of the Internal Gang and instead, is a victim of another crime.
Text messages spread like wildfire giving accounts of exact color of van and even plate number with the description of the passengers -- a Taiwanese, a doctor and some burly looking guys. Right now, every green van is suspect. School parking lots are filled with vans of all colors --surely owned by the schoolchildren's families making sure that the children are picked up right at the school gates. No school kid is now left roaming alone. All of a sudden everyone is a target of kidnapping when it used to be a scare only for children of wealthy Chinese businessmen.
The small kids are watched over. So the next news report now says the age range has been raised to 32 years and below. My 14 and 15 year old sons initially felt safe when reports said 3-12 years old, but now that the age range seems to cover everyone, soon no one will dare roam the streets anymore.
Everyday my children come home with different twists to the stories. The modus operandi now has changed --someone will be lured to bring friends over to the mall for a picture-taking session and ice cream afterwards. Very flimsy though-- for why would anyone would be interested to take everyone's picture and feed them ice cream?
The point now is -- everyone is paranoid. Last night a popular movie -star- turned- politician who, just two days ago went public to denounce false reports and assure her constituents that such reports are not true came out with a new pronouncement that the reports are indeed true and there are in fact 4 recent victims from her city- two of them toddlers. She vowed that this will be looked into vigilantly and the perpetrators of the crime will soon be thrown to jail.
I personally don't feel relieved. Nor safe. Not for myself because I am 43 and very unlikely to be picked up by any member of a gang interested in extracting my internal organs. I still feel scared for my children, for my neighbor's children, for my friends' children and all the Filipino children out there who are now in the midst of confusion and paranoia.
Whatever little good that we get from this scare (good in the sense that the children now don't stay out of the house) is not enough consolation against the bad that it is inflicting to everyone -- FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, INSECURITY and the overall feeling of despise for the government for not being able to even give correct information -- blocking the news and not giving out appropriate advisory.
I am more ANGRY than scared.
When I was a kid I feared the "manunupot" ("sipay" in this part of the Philippines) who snatch children away and kill them for blood to mix with cement in the construction of bridges. Even at my age now, I never came to know the truth-- because I never knew anyone who had been snatched away and killed. But who knows?