Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kidnap for Ransom for the First Quarter of 2012, Part III:.The Strange Fate of Japanese Victim Toshio Ito

In a Third Quarter of 2010 entry I discussed the KFR, or Kidnap for Ransom, of Japanese expatriate Toshio Ito. Ito arrived in the Philippines in 2000. The 54 year old man from Hiroshima brought his life savings with him and sought to re-invent himself as so many expatriates in the Philippines seem to do.

Travelling south Ito established himself in Dumaguete, on Negros Island. Via an internet dating site Ito met a nubile teenaged Filipina from Misamis Occidental Province on Mindanao. Travelling to our fair isle in 2002 Mr.Ito made his way to his paramour's hometown, Plaridel. It was in Plaridel that Toshio Ito began calling himself Katayama Mamaito. Believing he had found the love of his life, Mr.Ito invested all his life savings in a home for the young lady and her family, and in a sand and gravel business to keep them all afloat.

By 2004 both his love life and his business had gone belly up. His young Filipina not only left him, she kept the house Ito had bought- since it is illegal for foreigners to buy land (though they CAN inherit it from a deceased spouse-in the young lady's name. Adding the proverbial insult to injury, Ito's ex-girlfriend then began a relationship with a Westerner who then promptly moved into Ito's home, ex-home, you get the picture...

As many might, Toshio Ito took a dive off the deep end. One day, soused on "tuba," the local rotgut, Ito broke into the house. Though only Ito knows what he had in mind, the young lady's maid-paid for out of money stolen from Ito's failed sand and gravel business- spotted the drunk man and alerted a next door neighbour. This being Mindanao after all, the neighbour grabbed his trusted M14 and quickly confronted Ito who collapsed im gut wrenching sobs.

Incarcerated in the Plaridel City Jail, Toshio Ito cum Katayama Mamaito, spent the next seven days lying in what to most readers would be unimaginable filth. Finally, his few local friends pooled their money to bail their poor friend out of jail. Toshio Ito promptly repaid the kindness of his friends by absconding and forfeiting their bail...that is...after he borrowed still more money.

Making his way to a low rent hostel in Zamboanga City, Ito then did what Toshio Ito apparently does best, he wallowed in self pity, told his "woe unto me" sob stories to anybody who even glanced at him, and attempted to once again live off of the misplaced kindness of strangers. Ito didnt have much luck in that last endeavour, at least until he ran across a middle aged Sama woman from Pangaturan Island. In town for a medical exam, the woman was about to sit down to lunch when she made the terrible mistake of listening to Toshio Ito's sad lament. Inviting the pitiful man to join her, her treat of course, the two had a long and meandering conversation. Hearing why the woman was in Zamboanga City, Ito, like any adept conman, introduced himself as Dr.Katayama Mamaito, of Hiroshima, though since his wife had died in a terrible train wreck, he had lost everything as he spiraled into the abyss of depression. By the end of the meal the two were getting on like long lost friends.

At the woman's insistence, Ito spoke with her husband by phone. A retired village politician, the man insisted Ito join his wife for the trip south to Pangaturan, and to honor them by becoming their treasured house guest. Ito didnt have many options at this point, in fact, with just two days left at the hostel, he had no options whatsoever. So it was that Toshio Ito, a penniless Japanese man, ended up living in a remote corner of Sulu Province.

On Pangaturan it didnt take Ito long to figure out the surest way to ingratiate himself with his new host, a mid-ranking officer in the MNLF-Misuari. Studying Islam, Ito announced that he had seen the light and was now ready to accept the true faith, Islam. Converting in front of the entire population of Pangaturan's Barangay Bangkilay, he took the name Ameer (Prince, usually spelled "Emir"), a common name for male converts. Dr.Ameer Katayama Mamaito next gained entry into the MNLF-Misuari and was assigned as a medic. Pleased beyond measure, Ito's new hosts readily agreed when their houseguest hit them up for seed money to open a small pharmacy in that barangay's Sitio Bas.

From 2004 until 2010, Ito led a quiet and unassuming life. Perhaps the forlorn man had finally found what all of us seek, a loving home. He was respected in his community, so much so that his friends in the MNLF, learning that Ito had run afoul of Philippine Visa Regulations, obtained a black market birth certificate from crooked officials in Marawi City on Mainland Mindanao. However, not everybody was so taken with Toshio Ito. Younger men had begun circulating rumors that Ito was a Deep Penetration Agent out to spy on the MNLF. Despite his many defenders in the community, the aituation continued to worsen and on the evening of July 16th, 2010, it came to a head.

Ito was dragged out of his bed at just past 10PM that evening by ten young men carrying assault rifles. Frog marching Ito to a mangrove Ito must have been sure that his luck had finally run out. Instead of executing the frightened Japanese man however, the young men forced Ito into an idling pumoboat which then castoff and sailed for Jolo Island.

For a year and a half little was known about Toshio Ito's fate, other then he had been handed off to subordinates of MNLF-Misuari commander, Kumander Ustadz Habir Malik upon making landfall on Jolo. It was also known that the MNLF had turned a fast profit by selling Ito to the ASG, or the Abu Sayyaf Group. Held by the faction led by Kumander Ninok Sappari, who when not keeping Ito's hands tightly bound with rope, compels the emaciated captive to cook whatever livestock they have stolen.

Because Ito cooks, Police Provincial Office for Sulu Province (PPO-Sulu), via its Director, Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, has gone on the record as saying that Toshio Ito is now a full fledged member of ASG. Given Ito's nefarious past it is not difficult at all to understand just why PPO-Sulu has sought the easy way out of meeting its responsibilities in this case. Not suprisingly, the Japanese Embassy has likewise abdicated its responsibilities. On March 14th, 2012, the PNP, or Philippine National Police, officially removed Toshio Ito from its roster of KFR victims and re-classified him as a member of ASG. Talk about "Stockholm Syndrome" gone bad. In fact, he exists in a grey netherworld where his captors, having shelled out cash to buy him from the MNLF, are reluctant to release him without even a minimal net profit. On the other hand, executing Ito, the normal course of events in such cases, is not a realistic option given Ito's conversion to Islam. So, for the forseeable future, Toshio Ito's life will remain a living hell.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr. Rynell Ronaldo,
    HI my name is Shuichi Azuma. I am a Japanese journalist and TV news director. I would like to know more about this Japanese hostage. Can I talk with you through email? my address is

    Thank you very much for your time and cooperation.


    Shuichi Azuma