A feeling of “mass hysteria” is what has motivated the recent denunciations of the supposed abduction of children by Philippine nationals.

Walter Espinoza, director of the OIJ. on Tuesday during a press conference

This is the opinion of the Director of the Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), Walter Espinoza, expressed Tuesday afternoon, at a press conference that he called to clarify the issue.

“There is a kind of mass hysteria generated mainly in information from social networks that have caused alarm and commotion,” said the police chief.

According to him, this phenomenon has caused “the situation get out of hand”, despite the fact that the investigations carried out by the OIJ have not been able to establish the existence of criminal activity of any nature, nor the existence of any group dedicated to the abduction of children.

“It has not been possible to link anyone with a crime and there is no objective, accurate and reasonable data that indicates that they (Philippine citizens) are engaged in an orchestrated manner to commit criminal acts in our country,” he said.

The rumors, explained the police chief, are related to four events, the first of which was in Palmares de Alajuela, last Thursday, with the arrest of two Philippine women by the Fuerza Publica (National Police) for the alleged attempt to abduct a minor.

“That is what is perceived in a video and from that circumstance, there is a collective conviction that there is someone ro someones who want to steal children,” Espinoza said.

The women, however, were released hours later, without being charged or with preventive measures. Both left the country Tuesday morning, confirmed Espinoza.

“The reasons for how this has spread is very difficult to establish for the OIJ, what we investigate is the facts, ” he added.

The second incident that was reported to the Judicial Police occurred on May 11 in Nicoya, Guanacaste. In that case children were not even involved

“It was simply a Fuerza Publica alert in which there are two ‘Filipinas’ in Samara beach that were arrested and without any children being involved,” said the director of the OIJ.

Cartago was the scene of the third denunciation. This occurs after a security officer at a health center observed two people with oriental features, having contact with a family that had a child.

“There was no evidence of abduction (…) there is no case,” he said.

The most recent report was on Monday in Heredia and the facts are still under investigation, however, Espinoza said that the case has very little evidentiary support.

“A woman comes to file a complaint about an attempted abduction of a minor, but the same complainant suddenly lef the police (station) and did not provide any additional information,” explained Espinoza.

The OIJ chief reiterated that in all cases there wasn’t enough evidence to support the accusations made to the authorities to believe of an organized effort to commit the theft of children, either by Philippine or other nationality.

According to information from the Judicial Police, the persons in the different cases, are dedicated to carrying out collections for children at risk and have the respective permits to carry out this activity in the country.

These people of Philippine nationality entered Costa Rica with a religious visa and their migratory status in the country is in order.

Espinoza added that the OIJ visited the headquarters where these people apparently carried out activities, located in the industrial zone of Pavas. The International Police (Interpol) was also consulted, and there is no record of any advisories.

“Obviously, at the OIJ, we continue to carry out investigations and provide a report to the Office of the Prosecutor,” said Espinoza.

Do not neglect the children

The Ministerio de Seguridad Publica and the child welfare agency, the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia (PANI), issued a joint statement on Tuesday in which they called for remaining calm, but without neglecting the children.

“We call for calm, as well as refraining from repeating information that has not been confirmed by official sources, divulged in an irresponsible manner. In the same way, we take the opportunity to reiterate to the parents, mothers and those responsible for minors so that they continue to take preventive measures for the care of their boys and girls,” the document adds.

According to the PANI, in 2017, 9,776 complaints were received for negligence of health (those responsible for the children do not take them medical appointments or do not give them medication) and 118 for negligence in education (they deny them school).

Addd to these are another 1,380 cases of negligence leaving the children alone in the house (or in charge of another minor) and 216 of abandonment, that is failing to provide the children basic material and socio-emotional needs.

Source (in Spanish): La Nacion

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